Newhouse leads caucus colleagues in efforts to update Endangered Species Act

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) on Jan. 28 led his colleagues in the Congressional Western Caucus in hosting a special order in the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss the group’s efforts to modernize the 47-year-old Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The ESA, said Rep. Newhouse during his opening remarks, “is one of the nation’s bedrock conservation laws that has sorely grown outdated and ineffective.”

Despite being signed into law with the worthy goal to protect and revitalize endangered and threatened animals and wildlife, the ESA has earned only a roughly 3 percent recovery rate, “proving to be a staggering failure to protect the very species it was intended to aid,” said Rep. Newhouse.

The Congressional Western Caucus on Jan. 15 introduced a package of 17 bills by members from across the rural West and beyond to strengthen the ESA by creating a more comprehensive and streamlined approach to support species recovery while also working to decrease overregulation.

“We should not tie our hands when it comes to species recovery,” Rep. Newhouse said. “Using the best available science, considering all ongoing conservation measures, streamlining the process for listing decisions, and empowering state and local efforts creates a comprehensive approach to advance species recovery will fulfill the true intent of the ESA.”

As part of the caucus ESA package, Rep. Newhouse introduced the Weigh Habitats Offsetting Locational Effects (WHOLE) Act of 2020, H.R. 5588, with 12 Republican cosponsors to amend the ESA to provide for consideration of the totality of conservation measures in determining the impact of proposed federal agency action, according to the text of the bill.

If enacted, H.R. 5588 aims to incentivize private investment in species recovery, streamline federal decision-making and promote comprehensive efforts of states, according to Rep. Newhouse’s office.

“Like far too many regulations that come from our nation’s capital, relying on top-down decisions from bureaucrats only serves to limit economic prosperity,” said Rep. Newhouse in his remarks on the House floor last week. “These decisions have not only negatively impacted local communities, they have done close to nothing to recover and protect threatened animals and wildlife.”

Modernizing the ESA, the congressman added, “is far overdue for our wildlife, our environment and for all of our communities.”