February 21, 2006



Keystone: Steps Can Be Taken To “Improve the Law’s Effectiveness for the Species at Risk, Make Government Activities More Efficient, and Reduce the Concerns of Regulated Parties.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, praised the efforts of participants in the Keystone Center dialogue and outlined the next step in the Committee’s legislative process for modernizing elements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Last Friday, Chairman Inhofe, and five other Senators who requested the Keystone Center’s assistance, received a letter from Keystone reporting the completion of its process and areas of consensus. In the letter, the group reaffirmed the need for Congress to move forward and “take steps that would improve the law’s effectiveness for the species at risk, make government activities more efficient, and reduce the concerns of regulated parties.” The letter presents Keystone’s best characterization summarizing the process and basic outcomes in advance of the release of its full report, expected toward the end of this month.


The Keystone group also reported that it was unable to reach a consensus solution with regard to the utility of critical habitat designations, a component of endangered species protection that has proven to be questionable, prompting the House of Representatives to take action in its versions of ESA legislation.


“We truly appreciate the efforts of those who contributed to the Keystone process,” Senator Inhofe said. “The Keystone group has reached a consensus that the current framework of the ESA is in need of repair to improve its effectiveness and efficiency, and we will work to draft a bipartisan bill with that guidance in mind. While it is disappointing that a final agreement could not be reached with regard to critical habitat designations, despite the additional time taken to deliberate, it is now clear that the Senate should act to complete the legislative process begun last year in the House and present a strong bipartisan bill that will deliver results for the investments we make every day to protect our lands and wildlife.


“I look forward to working with Senators Chafee, Jeffords and Clinton to present a bill for mark-up by the end of next month.”