WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sens. Mike Lee, Orrin Hatch and David Vitter introduced the Native Species Protection Act on Thursday. The bill seeks to clarify that noncommercial species found entirely within the borders of a single state are not in interstate commerce or subject to regulation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 or any other provision of law enacted as an exercise of the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.
“There are real environmental benefits to protecting endangered species from extinction, but the federal law intended to establish such protections – the Endangered Species Act – is in serious need of reform,” Lee said. “In the nearly 50 years since it was signed into law, the ESA has done more to impede economic activity, obstruct local conservation efforts, and give federal bureaucrats regulatory control over private property, than it has done to protect endangered species. And far too often, the federal government oversteps its constitutionally limited powers by using the ESA to regulate single-state species – such as the Utah prairie dog, a species that knows no home other than Utah.”
Hatch echoed Lee’s sentiment and said states are best equipped to manage wildlife responsibly in their own borders.
“The Native Species Protection Act will allow state wildlife management authorities, in cooperation with local communities, to develop balanced conservation plans that meet the unique needs of state-specific species and affected areas,” Hatch said. “I’m pleased to be a part of this effort and hope that the Senate will act on it quickly.”
Vitter said a balance needs to be made between protecting endangered species, private property rights, and local economies.
“This bill will ensure that federal bureaucrats don’t take advantage of landowners,” Vitter said. “Common sense dictates that if someone plans to build a garden on his own land, he should not be subjected to unnecessary government intrusion and expensive penalties. It’s important that we protect endangered species, but that does not mean that far left environmental activists should use the law to endanger private property rights.”
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