The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plan to move forward with a proposal to list Central Texas salamanders under the Endangered Species Act is a flawed decision based on bad science, according to U.S. Rep. John Carter (R-TX31).
"I am very disappointed with this decision to dismiss the new evidence submitted by scientists and community leaders, and move forward prematurely on the basis of lawsuits instead of reliable and replicable research," says Carter. "If the proposed listing were allowed to stand, the accompanying "critical habitat' restrictions have the potential to bring economic growth to a standstill in this entire Congressional district. We will continue legislative efforts to allow sound environmental science to decide this issue, rather than fringe groups and lawyers."
Carter introduced the Salamander Community Conservation Act, H.R.6219 in July, which would block premature listing of the species as endangered without adequate scientific data to support such a decision.
Elected officials, community leaders, residents, and small business owners had requested that several previously planned and ongoing studies be completed before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes a decision. Recently an independent review by Michael Forstner, PhD of previous genetic studies on the species determined that three of the four species -- the Jollyville Plateau, Georgetown and Salado salamanders - are in fact one species. Dr. Forstner's work was the first comprehensive DNA assessment available to include all of the Texas Eurycea salamanders.
USFWS is under pressure from a court order to rush their decision, in direct violation of the 2005 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines on the peer review process which requires a "transparent, balanced and independent" review of all data. Recent legal actions by environmental activist organizations have sought to force USFWS from following OMB and ESA guidelines, to allow the groups to seize effective regulatory control of public and private lands through court-sanctioned dictates.
The proposed listing in the Federal Register begins a 60 day comment period ending on October 22, 2012. USFWS is seeking comments from concerned government agencies, businesses, the scientific community, and any other interested parties. They will also be hosting two public hearings to solicit comments from the public on this proposal.