ESA Compliance: Limiting water supplies and driving up costs?

June 21, 2005
Water & Power Subcommittee, of the House Committee on Resources, to hold hearing on impact of Endangered Species Act on water supplies...

WASHINGTON, DC, June 21, 2005 -- The Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold an oversight hearing on "Environmental Regulations and Water Supply Reliability." This hearing will focus on the effect of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on water supplies. Subcommittee members will hear directly from witnesses who support the protection of endangered species but experience firsthand the impacts of ESA compliance. The hearing will be held Wednesday, June 22 at 10:00am in 1324 Longworth House Office Building.

"Everyone wants to protect endangered species, but we need to improve the way the Endangered Species Act is being carried out," said Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman George Radanovich (R-CA). "Water is the common thread that bonds the economic and social fabric of our communities. Throughout the West communities are threatened daily with severe water problems and it's our responsibility to help find solutions."

Species recovery is the goal of the ESA but evidence suggests that implementation of the Act over the last 30 years has lead to very limited success. In addition, the effect of its implementation led to water-shut offs in the Klamath basin, costly litigation, and millions of tax-payer dollars spent in vain. The most apparent effects are the costs that are directly passed on to water consumers.

"The ESA desperately needs an update and a renewed focus on species recovery," said House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA). "Its one-percent recovery rate over the past thirty years has failed to live up to the Act's noble intent. On top of that, the Act's unintended consequences have hurt family farmers and rural communities alike, which no individual can find acceptable."

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), a federal agency which manages hundreds of water projects throughout the western states, annually suffers a financial drain due to the ESA. In 2003, Reclamation exhausted nearly $84 million in federally allocated funds on activities for listed species. This compliance has a direct impact on the agency's water management and their ability to better serve the customers of the seventeen western states that depend on Reclamation for their water. Additionally, these customers incur supplemental fees to replenish Reclamation's funds that are spent on ESA compliance. The result is a two-fold sacrifice on the water user: forgone water and increased water cost.

At the beginning of the 109th Congress, Chairman Richard W. Pombo and the Resources Committee announced a renewed effort to improve and update the Endangered Species Act. This hearing is one in a series to be held throughout the year around the country.

For more information on the Endangered Species Act, please visit:


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