Some questions have arisen on the Senate side of Congress pertaining to proposed Endangered Species Act reform. Ever since the House approved its version of an E.S.A. reform package late last month, there has been speculation first when the Senate would take up E.S.A. reform, and second, how similar or different would it be from the House measure. Addressing these issues in a recent edition of the environmental television program E and E TV was Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho. Crapo has long been one of Congress's top proponents for Endangered Species Act reform. And he says the answer of when E.S.A. reform will be introduced in the Senate depends on how soon the efforts to build a bi-partisan coalition of Senators produce both a consensus on what E.S.A. reform should entail, and the support needed to bring the measure up to the full Senate for a vote.
CRAPO: When you are trying to build a consensus package like this, you never can actually put a timeline on it because the timeline depends on when you get the agreement and the consensus. We're getting very close. We've got a good working package. Many of the same types of ideas that have been in the House bill and we are expanding our working group & we have a working group that Senator Blanche Lincoln and I are chairing & that is seeking to get both Republican and Democrat membership
But what will the Senate version of E.S.A. reform consist of? As it turns out, it may depend on what the Chair of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, decides. Days after the House approved its E.S.A. reform measure, Chafee admitted there were aspects of the bill that concerned him. The House E.S.A. reform measure includes components such as an end to critical habitat designations, compensation to landowners suffering property takings as a result of an E.S.A. listing, and using political appointees to be part of the E.S.A. listing process. Chafee's direction, whether supporting the House bill or writing his own version, will depend on the findings of his keystone E.S.A. reform advisory group, scheduled to meet later this month.
CRAPO: They are working on the critical habitat issue to try to bring together in a collaborative fashion a good solution that they can then recommend to us, and I think that is an excellent way to approach the issue.
But waiting on Chafee to decide is not the only option Crapo and other Senate supporters of E.S.A. reform have. A look at what might transpire in the next two months is discussed in our next program.