THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES RECOVERY ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 29, 2005)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 470 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 3824.
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Mr. BACA. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 3824, the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act. I commend the gentleman from California (Chairman Pombo) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Cardoza) for this legislation.
This legislation modernizes the Endangered Species Act, or ESA, to allow for more scientific review, better conservation plans, and to focus on a recovery process that is based on collaboration and not conflict.
After more than 3 decades, the ESA has failed. This legislation is a bipartisan effort to fix the flawed law.
Less than 1 percent of endangered species have recovered, less than 1 percent. The ESA has only helped 10 of 1,300 species listed under the law. Thirty-nine percent of the species are unknown. Twenty-one percent are declining, and they are declining, and 3 percent are extinct. This law has a 99 percent failure rate.
We need to update. We need to update and modernize the ESA to strengthen the species recovery by turning conflict into cooperation and allowing the use of sound science.
In the Inland Empire, the ESA has prevented or increased costs for freeway interchanges, economic development, and things as simple as trash removal. There are certain areas that are blighted in portions of our communities. It is like walking into a mine. You have got to watch every step that you take because you are afraid you are going to step on an endangered species.
In my district, we have two infamous endangered species. I want to point to one, the Delhi sand flower-loving fly, and of course, the other one is the kangaroo rat.
Look at this fly. If anyone were to see this fly, we would swat it. It is our first, immediate reaction, and we have always heard the buzz at night when we hear a fly. We do not stop to look at it to see if it is an endangered species. Immediately we react; we swat it.
Now, when we look at this fly, and it was buzzing around, I would swat it. What would happen if a cow swatted this fly? Would we fine the cow or the owner? It seems pretty ridiculous, I say.
ESA has many ridiculous examples. As we can see in these posters next to me, the fly costs San Bernardino County Medical Center $3 million to move the hospital about 200 feet when the fly was found in the property. That is about $600,000 per fly. Can my colleagues imagine what it would do to our communities, $600,000 to move a hospital? They reserved a certain area that is full with blight that is overlooking the hospital.
Also in my district, ambulances driving to this emergency room at Arrowhead Medical Center need to slow down so that the endangered flies will not hit their windshield. Can my colleagues imagine someone who needs emergency services cannot get to the hospital, has to slow down because they are afraid this fly might run into the windshield? That is ridiculous. It is about a life that we need to save, not a fly.
It has even been suggested that traffic be slowed down on Interstate 10. Interstate 10 goes into Palm Springs. It is a route that moves traffic back and forth. It is ridiculous. They are saying, all right, this fly only comes out between July and September. So people are suggesting when we travel on that freeway that you should reduce your speed limit from 65 to 25 miles an hour because we might endanger this fly and hit this fly. Can my colleagues imagine the traffic congestion in the area, the impact it would have in that area, on the flow of goods and others that would not be able to be moved? That is ridiculous.
The Inland Empire is indeed species rich, but we have been hit hard by jobs lost by ESA. That is why we need to take into account the human cost.
For example, in the cities of Colton and Fontana, California, a handful of flies, yes, flies are responsible. The city of Fontana alone has spent $10 million in legal fees associated with the ESA and has been forced to put aside $50 million worth of land that has been intended for development. A scrapped commercial center with a supermarket would have generated $5 million in revenue.
Can my colleagues imagine what this would have done to the area, better schools, more police officers, new fire stations, teen centers, paving the streets, fixing our potholes? Yet we have not been able to generate the kind of revenue that we need.
The ESA is related to the development that led the city to default on bonds. Will the Federal Government restore the city's credit rating? No. It has hindered us.
Imagine if endangered species suddenly thrive in the areas flooded by the hurricanes. Do we stop the hurricane construction?
This law affects more people than what we think. Think of the farmers not able to harvest their crops because an endangered species is found in the field.
Local cities have offered land for habitat, changed development plans and tried to partner in that process; but ESA, as written, will not permit that.
I support this legislation, and I think this is good legislation. I ask my colleagues also to support the passage of this.
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