Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Interior Secretary Sees More Collaboration From States, Locals; Governors Want ESA Reform

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the ongoing Bureau of Land Management Planning 2.0 process will “make more space, not less” for collaboration between the federal agency and state and local governments, especially with respect to land-use planning such as that involved in the decision last fall not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species List. But one Western governor challenged Jewell June 13 as to whether state leaders will have input early in the process of land use planning. “With respect to the governors' consistency reviews, it doesn't look that way right now,” Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) said. “In fact, it feels like its getting narrower versus broader. The way the process worked this last time with respect to the sage grouse, it felt perfunctory. I want it to feel like we've been listened to. We do want to be heard early in the process versus the end.” The exchange between Jewell and Sandoval occurred during a session of the annual meeting of the Western Governors Association in Jackson, Wyo., in which Jewell addressed issues of federal and state cooperation on natural resource management and public lands, including climate research, wildfire, energy, and species conservation. At its annual meeting, the WGA announced a policy resolution calling on Congress to amend and reauthorize the Endangered Species Act of 1973 based upon seven broad goals, including “maintaining the Act’s integrity and original intent to protect and recover listed species to a point where the protections of the Act are no longer necessary.” “If you care, as western governors do, about species and conservation, you also have to care about making the ESA operate at the most effective level possible,” said Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R), WGA chair, who made species conservation and improvement of the Endangered Species Act the focus of his chairmanship over the past year. Among the seven goals stated in the resolution is the requirement to “clear recovery goals for listed species, and actively pursue delisting of recovered species.” But Dan Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, told Bloomberg BNA the “political environment” in Washington, D.C., means it is unlikely Congress will take up the recommendations referenced in the governors' resolution. “And as a practical matter, there isn't enough time” for Congress to do so under the current administration, he said...more

Anyone who has read the proposed revisions to the planning regs can only conclude they want less input and involvement from state and local government. 

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