----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, January 15, 2006 10:29 AM
Subject: [Capr-discussion] Interior secretary backs Endangered
Interior secretary backs Endangered Species
By JOHN MILLER
writerBOISE, Idaho -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton is backing
congressional efforts to rewrite the federal Endangered Species Act, an
undertaking that could give landowners tax breaks for helping plants and animals
and allocate more power to political appointees.
"We need to take a hard
look at how the (Endangered Species Act) is structured and administered," Norton
said during a statehouse ceremony Thursday that transferred management of about
600 Idaho wolves from the federal government to the state. "We will continue to
work with Congress."
Environmentalists credit the 1973 environmental law
with helping prevent the extinction of such creatures as the bald eagle, grizzly
bear and wolf. Some farm and property rights groups contend it hinders
legitimate land uses and generates lawsuits.
In September, the House
passed a bill by Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., that
would compensate property owners if species-protection requirements foiled
development plans. The House measure also would put political appointees in
charge of making some scientific determinations, and prevent "critical habitat"
designations in some areas.
A Senate version, introduced last month by
Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., includes provisions
designed to win support from landowners, such as citizen committees they could
sit on to help guide species-recovery plans.
That measure also would set
up "conservation banks" that property owners could use to accumulate and trade
credits for actions to help species, and give property owners tax credits for
actions that conserve species or help them recover.
including New York City-based Environmental Defense have voiced fewer objections
to the Senate measure than to the House bill. Still, they have expressed concern
that the Senate proposal could give too much influence to landowners and others
who are supposed to be regulated by the law.
Norton said the landmark
Endangered Species Act has failed because only a handful of the 1,268 listed
species have been declared recovered.
"The goal of the Endangered Species
Act is to recover to the point where (endangered animals) no longer need the
protections," Norton said. "It's the same as hospital. The purpose of a hospital
is not to keep people there."
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