Governors Call for Endangered Species Act Reform

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Colorado Gov. John W. Hickenlooper makes a point at the WGA annual meeting as Gov. Matthew H. Mead of Wyoming looks on.

The Western Governors Association (WGA) adopted a bipartisan policy resolution calling for much-needed reforms to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) at its annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., earlier this month.

WGA Chairman Gov. Matthew H. Mead (R-Wyo.) issued a comprehensive report along with the resolution identifying these key reforms.

NAHB members and state HBA staff held WGA workshops co-chaired by the governors from Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and Hawaii in preparation for the meeting to talk about the many obstacles presented by the ESA’s various regulatory prohibitions and permitting restrictions. Namely, the regulations impede the ability of states to accommodate population growth; provide critical infrastructure such as roads, water projects and energy transmission lines; and promote economic development.

Attending the workshops on behalf of the Federation were:

  • Cody, Wyo. Susan Asmus, NAHB staff
  • Boise, Idaho. Dennis Schaffner, member of the Building Contractors Association of Southwestern Idaho
  • Denver. Scott Smith, EO of the Colorado Association of Home Builders and Norm James, a member of the HBA of Central Arizona
  • Honolulu. Dean Uchida, member of the BIA of Hawaii

WGA’s ESA policy calls on Congress and the Administration to make specific statutory and regulatory reforms, including an end to the third-party “sue and settle” litigation process that has dominated the ESA listing petition process.

“The current implementation of the ESA often deters meaningful conservation efforts and divides, rather than unites people,” Gov. Mead said in his report.

The WGA policy also echoes NAHB’s opposition to recently finalized Obama Administration rules that significantly expand the federal government’s ability to designate either private or state-owned land as “unoccupied” critical habitat.

WGA’s bipartisan ESA resolution calls upon Congress to ensure states play a greater role during federal regulators’ decisions to either list future species or designate areas within a state as critical habitat under the act.

NAHB applauds Gov. Mead’s leadership as WGA chair, particularly his focus on identifying ways to protect species while allowing for growth through this bipartisan approach.

NAHB hopes to leverage these ESA policy recommendations with Congress and future Administrations.  For additional information, contact Courtney Briggs or Mike Mittelholzer at NAHB.

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