Endangered-Species Bill Has Broad Support

By Woellert, Lorraine | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 24, 1997 | Go to article overview

Endangered-Species Bill Has Broad Support


Woellert, Lorraine, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act would cut red tape and protect landowners while doing more to help wildlife, Clinton administration officials said yesterday.

But despite earning broad political and industry support, the bipartisan effort to rewrite the law drew fire yesterday from environmental groups and some property-rights groups at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

"The overall effect of the bill, in its current form, would be to seriously weaken the [act's] essential protections," National Wildlife Federation President Mark Van Putten said.

Other groups said the bill doesn't go far enough to protect landowners. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which advocates free-market principles, has accused the GOP of caving in to the environmental establishment.

Nevertheless, the Senate bill, sponsored by Environment Committee Chairman John H. Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, and Sens. Dirk Kempthorne, Idaho Republican, Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, and Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, is the first viable attempt in five years to reauthorize the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Mr. Chafee plans to mark up the legislation this month and send it to a floor vote before the winter recess.

"Our bill reforms the Endangered Species Act and brings it up to date," Mr. Chafee said. "The bill includes several incentives to encourage landowners to protect endangered plants and animals."

The bill is the result of a year of closed-door negotiations that included the administration and members of both parties. In addition to bipartisan political support, it has the backing of the timber and agriculture industries, developers, and other business groups, which say the proposed changes would give landowners incentives to protect wildlife and shelter them from additional liability in the future. …

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