Bill Challenges Environmental Extremism -HR4840 would rein in Endangered Species Act, require "sound science"

Wes Vernon,
Tuesday, July 9, 2002

WASHINGTON – After years of government-sanctioned harassment of citizens seeking to make an honest living, a House committee Wednesday is scheduled to vote on a bill to rein in the extremism of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The measure, H.R. 4840, would require "sound science” – solid, valid, legitimate scientific data to place a species on the endangered species list.

In normal times, it would not be considered a revolutionary idea to require sound science before seeking to yank a person’s livelihood out from under him. But environmental excess has opened the door to an era in which hard left activism displaces common sense normalcy.

H.R. 4840 is, in large part, an outgrowth of the outrage last year prompted by the government which, in obedience to the ESA, closed the headgate of a canal that for generations had fed farms in the Klamath Basin in Oregon and California, all in the interest of "endangered” sucker fish and Coho salmon.

Angry farmers gathered at the headgate and broke it open. The feds closed and locked it. The farmers returned and, protesting government oppression, opened it with a torch. All the while, local police were standing around refusing to intervene because "no local or state laws” were being broken.

Federal marshals were called in to protect the headgate. Left-wing "environmentalists” also gathered to lend their support to the headgate and the fish it protects. Putting fish before people is precisely the kind of environmental activism that has prompted H.R. 4840.

The National Academy of Sciences conducted a study and found the federal action without sound scientific basis.

Moreover, a study by the University of California and Oregon State University says the water shutdown has cost the economy of the farmers and the area’s economy in general an estimated $134 million to $200 million. That figure represents the people who were made to suffer on the altar of environmental zealotry.

Ultimately, Interior Secretary Gale Norton intervened, and a temporary solution resulted. Some 1,400 farm families, according to Walden’s office, are now getting water, but "the long-term operation is not finalized.”

As described by Land Rights Network, which provided valuable research last year for the series of reports on the CARA bill, another federal land grab, H.R. 4840 would improve the ESA, specifically by adding improvements to the process of listing species.

The bill is a merger of proposals by Reps. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., chairman of the House Western Caucus; and Greg Walden, R-Ore., who represents the Klamath Falls area.

Here are its major provisions:

To determine whether a species should be listed, the government "shall give greater weight to any scientific or commercial study of other information that has been field-tested or peer-reviewed.”


  • Petitions to list a species must include the species "current known and historic ranges,” "population estimates and trends,” and a demonstration that any alleged decline in species is "beyond the normal fluctuations for the species.”


  • The government is required to "acknowledge receipt of data regarding the status of a species that are collected by an owner of the land.” This one appears to be simple call for fairness. Imagine that: listening to both sides in an official proceeding.


  • The bill establishes independent review boards, and requires them to "review the adequacy of any scientific methodology used” to list a species.


  • Information received proposing the listing of species "shall be made available to the public.” In other words, no more arrogant bureaucrats telling you, in so many words, "This is our decision simply because we say so.”

    'Done in Secret'

    In summing up, American Land Rights Association-Land Rights Network says, "Sounds like common sense, right? To you and me maybe. But the greenies are VERY UPSET that their endangered species listing scam – no science, ignore competing data, done in secret – may be overturned and exposed to the light of day! They oppose the Pombo-Walden bill.”

    There is a long history of outrages spawned by the environmentalist-engineered Endangered Species Act. The Klamath Basin case turned out to be the proverbial "straw that broke the camel’s back.” Thus, this legislation is getting serious attention on Capitol Hill.

    Every member of the House Resources Committee will be asked to vote Wednesday on H.R. 4840. The Land Rights network urges citizens to contact the members and urge them to vote yes.

    Here are the committee members, according to the Congressional Directory:

    Republicans: Hansen, Utah; Young, Alaska; Tauzin, La.; Saxton, N.J.; Gallegley, Calif.; Duncan, Tenn.; Hefley, Colo; Gilchrest, Md.; Calvery, Calif.; McInnis, Colo; Pombo, Calif.; Cubin, Wyo.; Radanovich, Calif.; Jones, N.C.; Thorberry, Texas; Cannon, Utah; Peterson, Pa.; Schaffer, Colo.; Gibbons, Nev.; Souder, Ind.; Tancredo, Colo.; Simpson, Idaho; Walden, Ore.; Otter, Idaho; Osborne, Neb.; Flake, Ariz.; Rehberg, Mont.

    Democrats: Rahall, W.Va.; Miller, Calif.; Markey, Mass.; Kildee, Mich.; De Fazio, Ore.; Abercrombe, Hawaii; Ortiz, Texas; Pallone, N.J.; Smith, Wash.; Dooley, Calif.; Kind, Wis.; Inslee, Wash.; Napolitano, Calif.; Udall, N.M.; Holt, N.J.; McGovern, Mass.; Solis, Calif.; Carson, Okla.; McCollum, Minn.

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