The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4315 this week with support from Representative Kristi Noem, R-SD. H.R. 4315, the Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act combines four bills that were previously considered by the House Natural Resources Committee to update and modernize the Endangered Species Act (ESA), originally passed in 1973 and not updated since 1988.
“We thank Representative Noem for her support of this bill,” said Bob Fortune, President of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Assoc. from Belvidere. “The Endangered Species Act affects many ranch families who are managing natural resources on their grazing lands in order to provide habitat for these species and its time that we update and modernize this legislation to reflect current science in resource management and processes for keeping the public informed about changes to ESA listings.”
According to the Public Lands Council, H.R. 4315 would require data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions (including proposed listings) to be made publicly available and accessible through the Internet, allowing the public to see the information that is being used. And, the government would be required to disclose scientific and commercial data regarding listings to all states affected by a species listing. Affected tribes, state, and local governments would also be included in the data collection process for these decisions.
The bill would also require the Interior Secretary to report and comprehensively track ESA litigation costs, including attorneys’ fees, and post it on the internet, and it caps hourly fees paid to attorneys that prevail in cases filed under ESA. This will make the ESA consistent with current law under the Equal Access to Justice Act. Currently, no cap on attorney fees exists under the ESA allowing attorneys to be awarded massive sums of taxpayer money.