Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is urging Congress to put an end to the overbearing regulations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the abuse and misuse of the Endangered Species Act. In an ongoing effort to protect Texas private property owners’ rights, jobs and natural resources, Staples submitted written testimony June 19 to the U.S. House of Representatives’ committee on natural resources.
The committee was holding an oversight hearing, titled “Taxpayer-Funded Litigation: Benefitting Lawyers and Harming Species, Jobs and Schools,” which is examining how litigious groups use the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws to hinder species recovery, jobs and education.
“Congress needs to step in to end this game of ‘endangered chicken’ once and for all,” Staples said, regarding the tactics of threats by activist and the USFWS. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recklessly driving the taxpayers’ truck on a collision course with our economy, food producers, true species steward landowners and taxpayers. Let’s hope Congress takes the keys away before more damage is done.”
Below are excerpts from Staples’ testimony encouraging the EPA to explore ways to provide real and reasonable protection to legitimately threatened species:
“It is clear the ESA has been used to accomplish the goals of radicals and those seeking to expand the reach of government.
“A sad irony of the implementation of the Endangered Species Act is that it promotes regulation over incentives, often to the detriment of the species it proposes to protect. Rather than supporting proven conservation efforts, the ESA has been used to suffocate opportunities that promote species propagation through non-governmental, non-regulatory methods.”
“I implore Congress to take action to provide true relief to the people of Texas and the United States. The perversion of the ESA continues to create victims and take hostages.
“When will science retain its place as the foundation for decisions − ahead of activist litigation and threats in the absence of evidence?
“Approximately 84 percent of the land in Texas is in privately-owned farms, ranches and forests. Our landowners are responsible for managing the natural resources that sustain our state’s population of 26 million; feed and clothe the world; provide a healthy environment; and create the jobs that power our economy. We believe in sound decision making, private property owners’ rights and the fact that government is not the answer to every problem. The execution of the ESA conflicts with these principles and has been a source of concern for Texans for decades.
“Congress must act now to provide relief to landowners, states and businesses that are being deprived of property and the opportunity to work and create jobs as activists abuse the Act in a grab for the land and water upon which Americans depend.”
Staples has proposed a nine-point plan to reform the ESA. To read the proposal and the commissioner’s full testimony, click here.