U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement after introducing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Settlement Reform Act, which will give impacted local parties a say in the settlement of ESA litigation between special interest groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
"ESA litigation abuse has shut out those folks most affected by the kind of closed-door settlements we've seen. My bill opens up the process to give job creators and local officials a say."
Sen. Cornyn's bill adds protection for American citizens from the burdensome regulatory impact of closed-door litigation settlements between special interest groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Lee (R-UT), Michael Enzi (R-WY), John Boozman (R-AR), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), David Vitter (R-LA), James Inhofe (R-OK), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). Text of the bill is attached.
Background on ESA Settlement Reform Act
In 2011, two environmental groups settled multi-district litigation with the FWS that resulted in a "work plan" for the agency to make endangered species list determinations for hundreds of species. The settlement also required taxpayers to pay the plaintiffs' litigation fees. The suits were brought against the FWS because it failed to meet certain statutory deadlines after being flooded with requests to list hundreds of species.
Closed-door ESA settlements like these not only threaten unwarranted regulation, but give plaintiffs undue leverage over local land owners, businesses and elected officials in the conservation process.
The ESA Settlement Reform Act:
Applies to certain ESA "citizen suits" that are driving the litigation.
Gives local government and stakeholders a say in ESA settlements that affect them.
Limits the use of taxpayer dollars to fund ESA "citizen suits."
Preserves the FWS's regulatory authority.