U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), sent a letter to Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), and Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In the letter, the Senators request FWS and NOAA extend the comment period for critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for at least six months. The Senators note these rules, which will have major implications on private and public landowners, are extremely complex and as such, those impacted stakeholders need additional time to understand and comment on how the rules will impact them.

"These proposals will have far-reaching consequences that will affect a variety of land users because they have the potential to fundamentally shift the requirements for designating critical habitat," wrote the Senators. "The substantial impact is particularly assured given the decision by the FWS to enter into settlement agreements that require listing determinations on more than 250 species nationwide."

Sen. Thune is top Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Sen. Rubio is the top Republican on the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. Sen. Boozman is top Republican on the EPW Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife. The Senate EPW Committee and Senate Commerce Committee have jurisdiction over the ESA.

In January, Vitter wrote an op-ed on the Administration's abuse of the ESA by use of the "sue and settle" strategy. Click here to read more.

Click here to read yesterday's letter.