Sunday, February 13, 2005

Everybody loves baby manatees

Yeah, right. The Republicans don't, not as much as money and free enterprise:

Four leading GOP House members and senators announced a joint effort Thursday to rewrite the Endangered Species Act to toughen up habitat and scientific provisions. Environmentalists immediately criticized the plan as the latest attempt to gut the law.

The lawmakers said it was the first time members of the House and Senate had banded together at the beginning of a congressional session to amend the 1973 act. Previous attempts to change the law have failed, but they said this time they hoped to produce a single Endangered Species Act reauthorization bill that could be introduced in both chambers.

"We've been working on this issue for a long time," said House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif. "And to have the opportunity now to sit down and work across the Capitol and try to come up with legislation that does move the ball forward and begins to modernize and update the Endangered Species Act is extremely important."

Joining Pombo were Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.; Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; and Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I. Chafee, among the Senate's most moderate Republicans, is a newcomer to the issue who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's subcommittee on fisheries, wildlife and water.

The lawmakers said they had no specific legislative language yet, but listed goals including increased involvement by states, more incentives for private landowners, and strengthening scientific reviews before species are listed or critical habitat is designated.

They contended the law now creates unreasonable regulatory hurdles for property owners while failing to help many species.

"Overall we believe that the Endangered Species Act can be less contentious and more effective," Crapo said.

Crapo. For once, someone has the name they deserve. I'm sure that the Endangered Species Act could be more effective in getting rid of those pesky endangered species and leaving more land available for real estate development and stuff. The endangered species don't vote, either, so why bother about them much?