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WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer made the following statement today on the House floor in favor of a bipartisan substitute to the endangered species legislation before the Congress:
“Mr. Speaker, 32 years ago, Congress passed and a Republican President – Richard Nixon – signed the Endangered Species Act to protect and conserve species in danger of extinction.
“Today, there are 1,268 species listed as endangered or threatened in the United States, including 26 in the State of Maryland.
“This law is not perfect, but it has been very successful. Roughly 40 percent of listed species have witnessed the stabilization or growth of their populations. And, less than one percent have been declared extinct since the law’s enactment.
“The fact is, this law has enabled the very survival of some of our most vulnerable species – including the bald eagle, the gray wolf, the California condor, and the whooping crane.
“Unfortunately, though, the underlying bill – which has been fast-tracked since its introduction last week – would substantially undermine the Endangered Species Act.
“For example, this bill would undermine the ability of the responsible Federal agencies – the departments of Commerce and Interior – to ably perform their oversight roles, and it fails to recognize the importance of sound science to species recovery and restoration.
“The bill also creates a fiscally irresponsible, open-ended entitlement program that effectively pays landowners to comply with the law.
“In contrast, the bipartisan substitute offers a far more reasoned approach.
“For example, it ensures consultation between the Secretary and other Federal agencies with proposed actions that may jeopardize species. It strengthens the definition of what constitutes jeopardy and requires the Secretary to ensure that proposed recovery plans identify and include areas necessary for species survival.
“The substitute also creates conservation programs that would provide technical and financial assistance to landowners committed to efforts that protect species.
“Mr. Speaker, we have a responsibility to protect our environment – as well as the diverse forms of life that share it – for future generations to experience and enjoy.
“The bipartisan substitute will help us achieve this goal. I urge my colleagues to support it.”