8:41 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. I just want to commend the gentleman for his statement. It's an outstanding statement. You covered this very comprehensively, especially the part about infrastructure. There was a $688 billion wastewater backlog during the Bush administration. We should be putting people to work on those kinds of projects. The gentleman is absolutely right, and I appreciate him being here late in the evening to support my amendment.

8:41 PM EDT

Jim Langevin, D-RI 2nd

Mr. LANGEVIN. I thank the ranking member. I want to commend the gentleman for sponsoring this amendment and for his work on the broader bill. This is the right thing to do, to defeat the broader bill here and bring a bill to the floor that really reflects our values.

Again, I thank the gentleman from Washington State for offering this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

8:42 PM EDT

Mike Conaway, R-TX 11th

Mr. CONAWAY. Mr. Chairman, as has been spoken earlier, the Endangered Species Act is broken. What began as a tool to help scientists protect vulnerable populations of endangered animals and plants has metastasized into an economic straitjacket from which there is no relief.

To illustrate my point, I would like to share the stories of two species that make their home in west Texas: the Concho water snake and the dune sagebrush lizard.

The Concho water snake was first listed as threatened on September 3, 1986. Since that time, the citizens of [Page: H5554]

Texas have spent millions of dollars complying with Federal mandates, performing surveys, and generally advancing knowledge of the snake's biology far beyond that which existed when the snake was first listed in 1986. Today, there is little question that the snake's population is stable and exists in far greater numbers than during the original

listing.

Because of this research, the service proposed delisting the snake on July 8, 2008. This delisting should be a victory for the service and the supporters of the Endangered Species Act. Instead, it has collapsed into a maddening, saddening caricature of endless

government bureaucracy.

During a federally mandated 10-year study of the snake, researchers caught and released 9,000 individual snakes. The data collected was the basis for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's decision to remove the snake from their threatened species list in August 2000. At that time, Fish and Wildlife declined to delist the species, instead requesting an additional population viability study to be conducted, with, of course, updated data.

Eight years later, in July of '08, the service finally issued a formal delisting proposal after what must have been an exhaustive, thorough, and detailed review of all of the best available science. Unfortunately, as of today, the service still has not completed action on its own proposal. Today, to the best of my knowledge, the final delisting rule is hung up somewhere with the lawyers in the solicitor's office of Fish and Wildlife.

It is inexcusable that this snake persists on the endangered species list. Its continued inclusion on the list represents a significant commitment of Federal, State, and local tax dollars. At a time when our financial commitments are under a strain at every level of government, dollars are wasted because of the failure of Fish and Wildlife to make a final decision on their own recommendation.

But beyond the dollars wasted while protecting a species that the service supports delisting, I'm more concerned about the long-term impact this non-decision has on the public's trust in our Federal Government. By proposing and then failing to delist a species, the service is undermining the very reputation it relies on when it hands down drastic and painful mandates sometimes needed to protect a species on the brink of extinction. The dunes sagebrush lizard is just one such species whose protection

will require the service to demand significant and costly compliance measures from the landowners and communities where this lizard exists.

Unfortunately, it's also a species that has a paltry amount of science behind the support of its listing. In Texas, there are but a handful of places that anyone has looked for the lizard, and the service is unable to answer basic questions as to how many lizards exist today or how many are needed to support a viable population of these lizards.

This might not stir up much trouble, except that the dune sagebrush lizard lives above one of the most productive oil and gas producing basins in the lower 48. Its inclusion on the endangered species list would dramatically curtail oil and gas exploration across this vast patch of the Permian Basin until the Fish and Wildlife Service decides on how best to proceed several years from now.

The oil produced on this land provides the livelihood for hundreds of thousands of Texas families, millions of dollars of support for Texas university and public school students and, most important, is used as energy by millions of Americans. The Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed closing this land to development based on too little science and too little concern for the economic consequences.

I believe that the interminable delay in delisting the Concho water snake and the paltry science behind listing of the dune sagebrush lizard is damaging the service's credibility as an honest steward of the powers its agents are entrusted with. Fair or not, the Endangered Species Act as implemented by Fish and Wildlife is viewed in my district as little more than a cudgel to beat up disfavored industries, in large part because the science is often shoddy, species are rarely delisted, and the

mandates continue in perpetuity. I support the underlying legislation today because I believe it is the best short-term chance to correct the imbalance in the implementation of the Endangered Species Act.

The underlying legislation will allow the Fish and Wildlife Service one full year to clear out its backlog of Concho water snakes across this Nation. Free from new listing requirements, the service can focus on the recoveries of the species that are under its care and better managing the charges it already has. I hope that the service takes this year off to pay particular attention to the dune sagebrush lizard and work to understand this animal better before it moves to close down thousands of

well sites across west Texas while the resulting energy prices are crushing our constituents.

Mr. Chairman, I oppose the gentleman's amendment because the amendment locks in the failed status quo for another year and offers communities around this country like mine no relief from the arbitrary mandates in the Endangered Species Act.

I yield back the balance of my time.

8:47 PM EDT

Kilili Sablan, D-MP

Mr. SABLAN. Mr. Chairman, I rise to express deep concern over the allocations in H.R. 2584, the Interior and Environment appropriations bill for 2012.

To begin, the bill cuts $1.7 million for technical assistance and maintenance assistance in the United States territories. These small amounts of money pay big dividends in the islands. The Northern Marianas was just awarded $1.2 million in technical assistance funding to develop geothermal resources to generate electricity. We pay up to 40 cents per kilowatt-hour now because we have to buy expensive foreign oil to power our generators. Technical assistance funds are helping to develop our own

domestic energy resources; and cutting these funds sends us in the wrong direction, back into the arms of foreign oil interests.

I do appreciate the small increases in the bill to fund water and sewer projects in the Northern Mariana Islands and the other territories. I am disappointed, however, that the bill targets the Environmental Protection Agency for overall cuts in the funding that provides Federal assistance to ensure clean air and water for all Americans.

As the ranking member of the Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I am also troubled over the allocations in this bill which would be devastating for the environment and for the preservation of America's natural heritage. H.R. 2584 provides inadequate funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service at levels 21 percent below fiscal year 2011 and 30 percent below the President's fiscal year 2012 request.

The bill cuts provide a meager $22 million in funding for the State and tribal wildlife grants program, 64 percent below fiscal year 2011, and 77 percent below the fiscal year 2012 President's request. This is a program that makes small investments now to avoid large expenses later. It provides money to States and tribes to take voluntary conservation actions to stabilize declining fish and wildlife populations now, and this helps avoid endangered species listings later. In my district, these

grants help implement our wildlife action plan, conserving wildlife and, I might add, creating jobs.

The bill also cuts the Fish and Wildlife Service's cooperative landscape conservation and adaptive science program 35 percent below the fiscal year 2011 levels and 47 percent below the fiscal year 2012 President's budget. This program supports the work of Federal, State, tribal, and local partners to develop strategies to address climate impacts on wildlife on local and regional scales.

[Time: 20:50]

The Northern Mariana Islands and other insular areas are on the front line of climate change. We face the impacts of sea level rise, ocean acidification, and increasing typhoon intensity. We need this program to develop science-based tools and solutions to conserve natural resources and help us adapt to the many negative effects coming at us as the Earth grows hotter. H.R. 2584 also cuts funding for the [Page: H5555]

National Wildlife Refuge System to 7 percent below

fiscal year 2011 and 9 percent below the 2012 request.

The National Wildlife Refuge System is the world's finest network of protected lands and waters. We have refuges in every State and in nearly every territory, including the Northern Mariana Islands. These refuges conserve our fish and wildlife resources, but they also have a huge economic benefit. Millions of people visit refuges each year to hunt, fish, and observe wildlife. The refuge system generates $1.7 billion in sales for local communities and creates nearly 27,000 jobs annually. Every

dollar spent in the refuge system by the Federal Government returns about $4 to local communities, and we can assume that every dollar we cut means $4 less for our local communities.

I have introduced legislation, H.R. 2236, that would generate funds for the refuges separate from the appropriations through the sale of semipostal stamps to address operations and maintenance backlog, but this is no substitute for money being cut in H.R. 2584.

Also cut is the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is used to acquire lands and conservation easements from willing sellers and landowners to provide operational efficiencies and connectivity within the refuges.

At a Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Subcommittee hearing this year, we heard from stakeholders as diverse as Defenders of Wildlife and the National Rifle Association who recognize the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which, I might add, is generated by offshore oil and gas drilling revenues. H.R. 2584 provides only $15 million to this program, 73 percent below fiscal year 2011 levels and 89 percent below the fiscal year 2012 President's request.

I strongly oppose H.R. 2584, which rolls back necessary funding to support hunters, fishermen, recreationists, and local communities who depend on the environment for their livelihoods and which undermines ongoing conservation, public health, and environmental protection for all Americans.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

8:52 PM EDT

Mike Fitzpatrick, R-PA 8th

Mr. FITZPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of this amendment, which I have cosponsored, that would remove a rider from this bill that would seriously compromise the effectiveness of the landmark Endangered Species Act, which was signed into law almost 40 years ago in 1973.

The extinction rider in this bill is a sweeping action that will prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from spending any money on listing new plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act, designating critical habitat, or upgrading species from threatened to endangered. At the same time, the bill maintains funding for delisting species, creating an incomplete and lopsided endangered species policy.

Mr. Chairman, my constituents in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and the American people support the important mission of the ESA, and it's not hard to see why. Preserving animals and plants brings countless benefits to people, and a loss of a species can have dangerous and expensive consequences in the future. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated that the loss of bats in North America would cost agricultural producers nearly $4 billion per year, including those in my district.

We also never know which

species of plants and animals may be important in developing lifesaving medicines in the future.

But the ESA's primary success to date has been to prevent the extinction of hundreds of species, including the American alligator, grizzly bear, and gray wolf. Indeed, less than two dozen species have gone extinct under the act, and most of these species were already doomed to extinction by the time they were listed.

Perhaps the most iconic among these species saved by the act is our national symbol, the bald eagle. On June 20, 1782, our Founding Fathers adopted the bald eagle as our national emblem. On the backs of many of our coins we see an eagle with outspread wings. On the Great Seal of the United States, on the seal of this very House of Representatives, and in many places which are exponents of our Nation's authority, we see the same emblem.

Living as it does on the tops of lofty mountains and in river valleys as close as the Potomac, the eagle represents freedom. However, by the mid-20th century, the bald eagle was severely threatened and reduced to just 400 nesting pairs. Bald eagles were declared an endangered species in 1967 in the lower 48 States under a less cohesive, less effective act. Then the ESA was signed into law. As a result of this, on July 4, 1976, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially listed the bald eagle

as a national endangered species. And thanks to the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service upgraded the bald eagle to threatened status in the lower 48 States in 1995 and officially removed it from the nationwide list in 2007. Today, after decades

of conservation effort, the Interior Department reports that there are some 10,000 nesting pairs for us and for future generations to cherish. Because, in large part, of the ESA, my children have had the chance to see a bald eagle in its natural habitat.

This amendment will remove the funding restriction on the listing and limit the funding to what has been spent on these activities in recent years. Additionally, the overall funding amount for the ESA and related programs of $138 million is significantly less than in past years, including in fiscal year 2008.

Mr. Chairman, decisions about wildlife management should be made by scientists, not by politicians. Preventing listing is not the answer. We must allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do their job and protect species while making improvements to increase the efficiency of this crucial program.

As I close, I implore my colleagues to imagine if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had been restricted from listing the American bald eagle. This majestic creature, without corrective measures, would have been lost only to books and to our national memory.

We have a responsibility to prevent the extinction of fish, plants, and wildlife because once they're gone, they're gone forever and we can't bring them back.

I urge support for this amendment.

8:52 PM EDT

Mike Fitzpatrick, R-PA 8th

Mr. FITZPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of this amendment, which I have cosponsored, that would remove a rider from this bill that would seriously compromise the effectiveness of the landmark Endangered Species Act, which was signed into law almost 40 years ago in 1973.

The extinction rider in this bill is a sweeping action that will prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from spending any money on listing new plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act, designating critical habitat, or upgrading species from threatened to endangered. At the same time, the bill maintains funding for delisting species, creating an incomplete and lopsided endangered species policy.

Mr. Chairman, my constituents in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and the American people support the important mission of the ESA, and it's not hard to see why. Preserving animals and plants brings countless benefits to people, and a loss of a species can have dangerous and expensive consequences in the future. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated that the loss of bats in North America would cost agricultural producers nearly $4 billion per year, including those in my district.

We also never know which

species of plants and animals may be important in developing lifesaving medicines in the future.

But the ESA's primary success to date has been to prevent the extinction of hundreds of species, including the American alligator, grizzly bear, and gray wolf. Indeed, less than two dozen species have gone extinct under the act, and most of these species were already doomed to extinction by the time they were listed.

Perhaps the most iconic among these species saved by the act is our national symbol, the bald eagle. On June 20, 1782, our Founding Fathers adopted the bald eagle as our national emblem. On the backs of many of our coins we see an eagle with outspread wings. On the Great Seal of the United States, on the seal of this very House of Representatives, and in many places which are exponents of our Nation's authority, we see the same emblem.

Living as it does on the tops of lofty mountains and in river valleys as close as the Potomac, the eagle represents freedom. However, by the mid-20th century, the bald eagle was severely threatened and reduced to just 400 nesting pairs. Bald eagles were declared an endangered species in 1967 in the lower 48 States under a less cohesive, less effective act. Then the ESA was signed into law. As a result of this, on July 4, 1976, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially listed the bald eagle

as a national endangered species. And thanks to the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service upgraded the bald eagle to threatened status in the lower 48 States in 1995 and officially removed it from the nationwide list in 2007. Today, after decades

of conservation effort, the Interior Department reports that there are some 10,000 nesting pairs for us and for future generations to cherish. Because, in large part, of the ESA, my children have had the chance to see a bald eagle in its natural habitat.

This amendment will remove the funding restriction on the listing and limit the funding to what has been spent on these activities in recent years. Additionally, the overall funding amount for the ESA and related programs of $138 million is significantly less than in past years, including in fiscal year 2008.

Mr. Chairman, decisions about wildlife management should be made by scientists, not by politicians. Preventing listing is not the answer. We must allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do their job and protect species while making improvements to increase the efficiency of this crucial program.

As I close, I implore my colleagues to imagine if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had been restricted from listing the American bald eagle. This majestic creature, without corrective measures, would have been lost only to books and to our national memory.

We have a responsibility to prevent the extinction of fish, plants, and wildlife because once they're gone, they're gone forever and we can't bring them back.

I urge support for this amendment.

8:57 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. I just want to commend the gentleman for an incredibly comprehensive, thoughtful, and credible presentation.

You mentioned the bald eagle. Just a few weeks ago, my grandchildren were out at Hood Canal, where I live, and on the beach three bald eagles came down and landed. It was one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen. And I just want to thank the gentleman for his support, his cosponsorship of this amendment. And I appreciate your credibility and your forthrightness.

8:57 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I just want to say, because the gentleman made a very good remark, but since we're talking about bald eagles, in our State they're around, and I would invite the gentleman to come to where I live in the desert in central Washington where every fall and winter we see bald eagles. They are truly a majestic bird.

But the point is, again--and I really thank the gentleman for yielding--this debate is not about the Endangered Species Act. This debate here is about trying to get people together so we can make the Endangered Species Act work in a way that will be beneficial to everybody, so that we can repeat the successes that we have had, albeit the successes are only 20 species; but, nevertheless, we ought to be working that way rather than restricting and having restrictions as the current act is.

8:58 PM EDT

Mike Fitzpatrick, R-PA 8th

Mr. FITZPATRICK. I appreciate the invitation, but the way to amend the act is in regular order in the committee, not necessarily through the appropriations process.

8:59 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. As I mentioned in my remarks when I spoke, that certainly is the intent of the committee that I chair that has jurisdiction.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has again expired.

[Time: 21:00]

8:59 PM EDT

Mike Thompson, D-CA 1st

Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Chairman, the amendment before us today corrects a terrible flaw in the underlying bill, a provision that prohibits the endangered species from being listed as endangered. This provision is so bad that it would be funny but for the dangerous effect it would have on imperiled species on the brink of extinction and struggling to survive.

The previous speaker was eloquent in his discussion about the bald eagle. Let's think about what would have happened had this measure been law 44 years ago. The American bald eagle, our national bird and symbol, would be gone. In the 1960s, there were less than 450 nesting pairs of bald eagles. But thanks to the Endangered Species Act, this national symbol was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. And now there are nearly 10,000 nesting pair of bald eagles.

Maybe some of my colleagues side with those who wanted our national bird to be a turkey. But I think I speak for most Americans when I say that I am proud that we saved this national treasure, the American bald eagle, from extinction.

Had this rider been the law of the land in 1979, the American alligator would most likely be gone. But because of the ESA protections, the American alligator population has grown to more than 2 million and continues to thrive, helping local economies throughout the southeast.

The Aleutian goose is another example of the success of the Endangered Species Act. Back in 1967, there were no more than a few hundred of these birds. But thanks to the ESA, the Aleutian goose was fully recovered and successfully delisted in 2001, with a population of more than 100,000 birds in 2008. So successful was the ESA recovery effort that the Aleutian goose is not only thriving, but also being hunted in my district. Just this past hunting season alone, 1,700 acres of land were made available

to hunters by the California Department of Fish and Game, not only pleasing the hunters, but helping the local economy as well.

Other animals that have made a tremendous recovery while listed under the Endangered Species Act include the California condor, the black-footed ferret, and the whooping crane. And of great importance to my district, we are seeing signs of healthy recovery for ESA-listed salmon. This impacts other fishing States as well.

Ironically, this deeply flawed provision does allow funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to delist recovered species under the act. However, you can't remove protections for recovered species unless they are listed as endangered in the first place and a successful recovery plan is implemented. This measure puts the cart before the horse.

Our bipartisan amendment, which is supported by more than 60 organizations, would strike this extreme provision. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of this Earth and prevent the extinction of wildlife, plants, and fish. The sad truth is that once we lose a species, we will never get it back. That's why we need to allow for science-based policies and recovery plans for imperiled species instead of allowing politics to drive listing decisions and activities.

I recognize that some of my colleagues have strong objections to the Endangered Species Act. But placing a spending rider on this year's Interior appropriation bill is not the answer. If real reform is needed, then let's have an honest debate in the authorizing committee to look at what is working and what's not working under the Endangered Species Act. And let's fix it.

That's a far wiser course than including an extreme policy change that goes back on America's promise to protect our most vulnerable animals and plants and would not be supported by the American public.

I ask that we support the Dicks amendment, this bipartisan amendment, and make sure that we take this extreme policy out of the underlying bill.

9:04 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I appreciate the gentleman's closing remarks when he said this is not the proper venue to address the Endangered Species Act. That has been my argument, too. I think it should be done in the authorizing committee.

But the fact of the matter is there is no incentive for the stakeholders to sit down if we continue to kick the ball ahead and not seriously look at the Endangered Species Act.

As the chairman said very well in his remarks, this is simply a shot across the bow, not only on this, but on other authorized programs. So we are not picking on these.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from California has expired.

(On request of Mr. Hastings of Washington, and by unanimous consent, Mr. Thompson of California was allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)

9:04 PM EDT

Mike Thompson, D-CA 1st

Mr. THOMPSON of California. I thank the gentleman.

This is a shot. It is a shot at the endangered species. You and I both know how important this is in regard to the salmon in our district, something that is very, very important, something that is important to our economy and something that is important to the ecology of not only our State but the ecology of the Nation. We need to work together, and I can suggest that we remove this and get to working together.

9:05 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. We share that concern about the salmon. I would point out to the gentleman that the salmon runs in the Snake River and the tributaries are coming back in greater number, which would suggest that the species is being recovered. And yet we are waiting for a judge to make a decision.

9:05 PM EDT

Mike Thompson, D-CA 1st

Mr. THOMPSON of California. Remember, you are very well aware of the salmon issue and how there have been a number of attempts over the matter of water that, if they had been successful, had it not been for the Endangered Species Act, there wouldn't be any fish, because without water, as you know, there are no fish.

9:05 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. If the gentleman will continue to yield, I can't argue with the gentleman. I'm simply saying we need to look at this. It has been 23 years.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from California has again expired.

(On request of Mr. Hastings of Washington, and by unanimous consent, Mr. Thompson of California was allowed to proceed for 30 additional seconds.)

9:06 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. The argument is not about the Endangered Species Act. The argument is about the serious business of sitting down and reauthorizing an act that has not been reauthorized since the 1980s.

9:06 PM EDT

Charlie Dent, R-PA 15th

Mr. DENT. I rise tonight in support of the Dicks-Fitzpatrick amendment. I voted for this same language in the Appropriations Committee markup a few [Page: H5557]

weeks ago, and we have all heard some pretty compelling arguments here tonight about some challenges with the Endangered Species Act. And as has been previously stated by Mr. Thompson and others here tonight, I agree with those who said that the proper venue for this discussion is in the authorizing

committee. I have great confidence in Chairman Hastings, that he would take a thoughtful and sincere look at the act to make reforms that I think many people would agree are needed. But again, I don't think this is the right place to do it.

Again, I support the underlying bill. I think overall this legislation, this Interior bill, while it is not everything to everybody, and certainly the funding levels might not be where some people would like, Chairman Simpson has done a commendable job putting a bill together.

But I think this language in the underlying bill should be stricken as proposed by Mr. Dicks and Mr. Fitzpatrick, and so I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

9:07 PM EDT

Charlie Dent, R-PA 15th

Mr. DENT. I rise tonight in support of the Dicks-Fitzpatrick amendment. I voted for this same language in the Appropriations Committee markup a few [Page: H5557]

weeks ago, and we have all heard some pretty compelling arguments here tonight about some challenges with the Endangered Species Act. And as has been previously stated by Mr. Thompson and others here tonight, I agree with those who said that the proper venue for this discussion is in the authorizing

committee. I have great confidence in Chairman Hastings, that he would take a thoughtful and sincere look at the act to make reforms that I think many people would agree are needed. But again, I don't think this is the right place to do it.

Again, I support the underlying bill. I think overall this legislation, this Interior bill, while it is not everything to everybody, and certainly the funding levels might not be where some people would like, Chairman Simpson has done a commendable job putting a bill together.

But I think this language in the underlying bill should be stricken as proposed by Mr. Dicks and Mr. Fitzpatrick, and so I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

9:07 PM EDT

Ron Kind, D-WI 3rd

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, as one of the former cochairs of the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus, and very active in that organization, I rise in support of the Dicks amendment and in opposition to the underlying bill.

It is unfortunate that Ranking Member Dicks has to offer an amendment in order to strip out a policy rider of this magnitude in an appropriation bill. We just had a short discussion about how this would be more appropriate in the authorizing committee for a further vetting of this issue. And I think there are some legitimate issues that we need to get into, but not in the appropriation bill. This is one of many policy riders that have been jammed into this appropriation bill, from the

assault on the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to allowing mining near the Grand Canyon, one of the great natural treasures we have as a Nation, and on and on and on. And this extension rider that was included in the base bill would prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from spending money, any money, on the listing of new animals or plants under the Endangered Species Act.

So to claim that this doesn't directly affect and attack the Endangered Species Act tonight is mind-boggling to me.

And yet in my home district in western Wisconsin, a very beautiful national wildlife refuge, the Necedah Wildlife Refuge, with three endangered species located there--from the gray wolf to the cardinal blue butterfly to the whooping crane--because of the protection that they have had, they are now increasing in population. The wolf to the extent that they are on the verge of being delisted in Wisconsin, another success story. And the whooping crane is making a resurgence, all because of the protections

afforded under the Endangered Species Act.

And now to claim in this bill that we are going to prevent additional funding in order to locate those species, whether animal or plant or fish, from falling under the protection, this is not the appropriate vehicle. But there is even more in this legislation that's disconcerting. The deep cuts to long-standing conservation, the Land and Water Conservation Program that has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, is deeply disturbing--an 80 percent proposed cut to the Land and Water Conservation

Fund.

[Time: 21:10]

And I'm glad that the committee earlier this night adopted the Bass amendment to at least restore $20 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But why are we cutting anything from that vital program? This isn't even funded by the taxpayers.

This comes from oil royalties from a grand bargain that we struck with oil and gas companies so they can explore and extract these natural resources from our public lands. They agreed that for the right of doing that, they would contribute to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, funds that would be used then for the enhancement of conservation programs and the protection and preservation of public lands in this country. And to come with a bill now to cut 80 percent of that out of oil royalties

does not make sense. Or, the 7.5 percent under the Wildlife Refuge System.

I know Chairman Dicks has been a champion of the refuge system for many years. It's a system that affects virtually every congressional district. It brings countless revenue into our districts, plus jobs. And with the huge backlog of maintenance and operation, another 7.5 percent cut will put them in the hole.

A $7 million cut from the National Park System budget, a 21 percent cut in the Fish and Wildlife Service, a 64 percent cut in the State Wildlife Grants Program, yet back home some of the greatest conversationists that I know are my hunting and fishing buddies, because they get it. They understand if we just go and use the resources and deplete it, from the wildlife to the fish to the waterfowl, that there's not going to be that recreational enjoyment that so many of us get in the outdoor recreation

community.

That's why it was no surprise that earlier this month over 640 outdoor recreation entities and preservation entities signed a letter to the chairman and the leadership and to everyone in our office decrying the spending cuts in these programs that we have before us this evening, because they know that these programs aren't something you can just turn off like a spigot. These programs require the continuity of funding and the continuity of assistance in order to make the progress that's necessary.

And so these draconian cuts that are being proposed right now are going to set back the cause of conservation, whether it's wildlife or land in the country, for many, many years, and that's unfortunate. Because these same people also understand the economic impact that these programs have.

Outdoor recreation contributes over $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy. It supports over 6 1/2 million jobs. One out of every 20 private sector jobs are affiliated with outdoor recreational opportunity, 8 percent of consumer spending. In my own State of Wisconsin, hunting and fishing alone supports over 57,000 jobs and $400 million in State revenue.

So if we're really serious about addressing the soft economy we have now and doing what we can to get the economy on track, creating good-paying jobs, this is the wrong place we should be looking in the budget for drastic cutbacks.

I've been one of the leaders in this place for significant farm bill reform to get at the outdated agriculture subsidies.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from Wisconsin has expired.

(By unanimous consent, Mr. Kind was allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)

9:08 PM EDT

Ron Kind, D-WI 3rd

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, as one of the former cochairs of the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus, and very active in that organization, I rise in support of the Dicks amendment and in opposition to the underlying bill.

It is unfortunate that Ranking Member Dicks has to offer an amendment in order to strip out a policy rider of this magnitude in an appropriation bill. We just had a short discussion about how this would be more appropriate in the authorizing committee for a further vetting of this issue. And I think there are some legitimate issues that we need to get into, but not in the appropriation bill. This is one of many policy riders that have been jammed into this appropriation bill, from the

assault on the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to allowing mining near the Grand Canyon, one of the great natural treasures we have as a Nation, and on and on and on. And this extension rider that was included in the base bill would prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from spending money, any money, on the listing of new animals or plants under the Endangered Species Act.

So to claim that this doesn't directly affect and attack the Endangered Species Act tonight is mind-boggling to me.

And yet in my home district in western Wisconsin, a very beautiful national wildlife refuge, the Necedah Wildlife Refuge, with three endangered species located there--from the gray wolf to the cardinal blue butterfly to the whooping crane--because of the protection that they have had, they are now increasing in population. The wolf to the extent that they are on the verge of being delisted in Wisconsin, another success story. And the whooping crane is making a resurgence, all because of the protections

afforded under the Endangered Species Act.

And now to claim in this bill that we are going to prevent additional funding in order to locate those species, whether animal or plant or fish, from falling under the protection, this is not the appropriate vehicle. But there is even more in this legislation that's disconcerting. The deep cuts to long-standing conservation, the Land and Water Conservation Program that has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, is deeply disturbing--an 80 percent proposed cut to the Land and Water Conservation

Fund.

[Time: 21:10]

And I'm glad that the committee earlier this night adopted the Bass amendment to at least restore $20 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But why are we cutting anything from that vital program? This isn't even funded by the taxpayers.

This comes from oil royalties from a grand bargain that we struck with oil and gas companies so they can explore and extract these natural resources from our public lands. They agreed that for the right of doing that, they would contribute to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, funds that would be used then for the enhancement of conservation programs and the protection and preservation of public lands in this country. And to come with a bill now to cut 80 percent of that out of oil royalties

does not make sense. Or, the 7.5 percent under the Wildlife Refuge System.

I know Chairman Dicks has been a champion of the refuge system for many years. It's a system that affects virtually every congressional district. It brings countless revenue into our districts, plus jobs. And with the huge backlog of maintenance and operation, another 7.5 percent cut will put them in the hole.

A $7 million cut from the National Park System budget, a 21 percent cut in the Fish and Wildlife Service, a 64 percent cut in the State Wildlife Grants Program, yet back home some of the greatest conversationists that I know are my hunting and fishing buddies, because they get it. They understand if we just go and use the resources and deplete it, from the wildlife to the fish to the waterfowl, that there's not going to be that recreational enjoyment that so many of us get in the outdoor recreation

community.

That's why it was no surprise that earlier this month over 640 outdoor recreation entities and preservation entities signed a letter to the chairman and the leadership and to everyone in our office decrying the spending cuts in these programs that we have before us this evening, because they know that these programs aren't something you can just turn off like a spigot. These programs require the continuity of funding and the continuity of assistance in order to make the progress that's necessary.

And so these draconian cuts that are being proposed right now are going to set back the cause of conservation, whether it's wildlife or land in the country, for many, many years, and that's unfortunate. Because these same people also understand the economic impact that these programs have.

Outdoor recreation contributes over $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy. It supports over 6 1/2 million jobs. One out of every 20 private sector jobs are affiliated with outdoor recreational opportunity, 8 percent of consumer spending. In my own State of Wisconsin, hunting and fishing alone supports over 57,000 jobs and $400 million in State revenue.

So if we're really serious about addressing the soft economy we have now and doing what we can to get the economy on track, creating good-paying jobs, this is the wrong place we should be looking in the budget for drastic cutbacks.

I've been one of the leaders in this place for significant farm bill reform to get at the outdated agriculture subsidies.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from Wisconsin has expired.

(By unanimous consent, Mr. Kind was allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)

9:13 PM EDT

Ron Kind, D-WI 3rd

Mr. KIND. For years, I have been leading the effort for farm bill reform to end these taxpayer subsidies going to a few but large agribusinesses that distort the market, distort trade policies. It's not helping our family farmers. Finally discussion is starting to take place seriously to actually scrub those programs. Yet when I've led this cause in the past, I remember not too long ago a Member in this body accused me of being the Osama bin Laden of agriculture policy. Yet today, if we had taken

actions 10 years ago when many of us were acting on it, maybe we wouldn't be finding ourselves in this huge fiscal hole that we have today.

So not only the policy riders but the spending cuts that are being proposed are the wrong direction for our Nation to go. It will jeopardize these vital programs--programs, again, that have enjoyed wide bipartisan support. We ought not be balancing the budget on their backs.

Over the last 30 years, funding for conservation programs has gone from 1.7 percent of Federal funding to less than .6 percent. They get it at the altar of fiscal responsibility. We can't go any deeper.

I encourage Members to support the Dicks amendment and oppose the underlying bill. We have to do a better job.

I yield back the balance of my time.

9:14 PM EDT

Steven Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I reluctantly rise to oppose the gentleman from Washington's amendment and support the underlying bill. A lot of compelling arguments have been made tonight to support the Endangered Species Act without interruption. They talk about the bald eagle and the compelling story about seeing those magnificent birds, and those are visual images that we all like.

But there's a side to the Endangered Species Act that is not being told. That's the side where one group just this year filed 1,000 petitions at one time to list new species. They know that their lawyers get reimbursed from the Federal Government every time they bring suit, and so they're happy to bring these actions which are destroying jobs in the West.

For instance, in the Second District of New Mexico, a suggested listing was given this year on the sand dune lizard, a small brown lizard that I've seen in the sand hills since I was going up there. They were plentiful then; they're about the same number now, but they have been listed as endangered.

And people didn't think much of it. And then they began to read the reports that anything that disturbs the surface of the ground would represent a potential threat to the habitat of the lizard and would thereby be prohibited.

Disturb the ground, they ask. What does that mean? Well, that means oil and gas activity. That means that $2.8 billion investment for nuclear enrichment that is taking place in southern Lea County, just taking place now, creating jobs for the first time in the nuclear industry that has been dormant for 30 years, would be shut down because they disturb the ground.

It would stop the high line wires from being put up and the electric utility crews from driving to the homesteads miles and miles away from the nearest town because they would disturb the ground. They could not even check the power lines to make sure electricity is going to these remote areas.

This is the Endangered Species Act that we're seeing.

People would come to me in disbelief and say, Mr. Pearce, it is not true? They couldn't kill our jobs with a lizard, could they? What about us as humans? What do they say?

I said, Take a look at the San Joaquin Valley. Twenty-seven thousand farmers put out of work with a 2-inch Delta smelt that we could have kept alive in holding ponds and bred by the millions and put into the rivers and go ahead and use the rivers for irrigation. But instead, a judge found that we had to shut down the entire agricultural product.

We began to import vegetables from areas that spray contaminants that we are not allowed to use in this Nation, a less safe food supply. We kill 27,000 jobs. We caused jobs to be created somewhere else, less safe food supply, all for a 2-inch minnow that could have been kept alive in some other fashion.

We also have a Lesser prairie-chicken that threatens the oil and gas jobs in our area. They're saying that the bird might not fly under or over those lines, so we can't put up electric lines across. Then, bury the lines, people say. Well, then the lizard wouldn't go across the area that's been disturbed by burying the lines.

It's easy to see why people are saying that the Endangered Species Act is not functioning properly and we've got to stop it. We are spending $3.5 trillion a year in our government and we're bringing in $2.2 trillion. Part of the problem is we've killed enough of our jobs, we've killed enough of our economy that we're in severe debt and deficit crisis.

Now, one of the problems is we've systematically eliminated the timber industry because of a spotted owl. We eliminated those 27,000 farmer jobs in the San Joaquin Valley. We've got the salmon swimming upstream, and now it's threatening that we've got to tear down all the hydroelectric dams. And the list goes on and on.

It is time for us to say that we can preserve the species and create jobs at the same time. That's not an unreasonable request. But to those lawyers making $350 a hour, they don't care if it's reasonable or not. To the Fish and Wildlife Service, they arrogantly told the people in New Mexico, No, we didn't do an economic study to see the cost on the jobs. We're not required to. These are things that are making people say enough is enough.

It's in my district that 900 people showed up to protest at one of the hearings on the listing of the lizard; 900 people coming out, and the Fish and Wildlife Service came to me in nervousness before the meeting and said, Would you speak to those who couldn't get into the meeting? They're agitated. I said, People do get agitated when you start killing their careers, when you start taking the jobs away from them.

There's a side to the Endangered Species Act that is being dealt with here tonight. I support the underlying bill and oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

[Time: 21:20]

9:19 PM EDT

Lois Capps, D-CA 23rd

Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Chairman, I am in favor of Mr. Dicks' amendment to remove this destructive and shortsighted anti-wildlife rider from the underlying bill.

The rider would gut the Endangered Species Act, as we've been discussing--a law that has worked for 40 years to successfully conserve our Nation's plants and animals. It would do this by blocking the Fish and Wildlife Service from new listings and bar the designation of critical habitat for currently listed species.

As has been said on both sides of the aisle this evening, this provision creates a one-way path to weakening wildlife protections by allowing the service to delist and downgrade a species' status from endangered to threatened but not to list new species. Unless a species is listed, it receives no protection under the ESA. Currently, the service has identified over 260 species that warrant protection but cannot be listed due to a lack of Federal resources. That's 260 species of plants and animals

found across the Nation that are in dire need of assistance and are at risk of disappearing forever.

Mr. Chairman, America's native plants and animals are already in serious trouble--under constant threat from toxic pesticides, air and water pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change; but this shortsighted and irresponsible rider may prove to be the most immediate and serious threat of all, sending countless species into extinction and destroying America's great conservation legacy.

It is our responsibility here to protect and conserve our Nation's most precious resources for future generations, and of course, that's why the Endangered Species Act was written. It codifies our commitment to good stewardship, and it preserves what we hold dear for the benefit of our children and our grandchildren. Since its initiation, we've witnessed incredible comebacks. Animals that were once on the verge of disappearing forever are thriving once again.

Because of the Endangered Species Act and other successful partnerships, bald eagles have returned, not only to Washington State, but to the Channel Islands off the coast of my congressional district. Just a few years ago, a pair of nesting bald eagles produced the first wild-born chicks in 50 years on Santa Cruz Island.

Also on the Central Coast, we've seen California condors and peregrine falcons soaring through our skies once again. The Guadalupe fur seal, which was hunted to near extinction, can now be seen swimming off the Channel Islands. There are similar success stories for the southern sea otter and the blue whale, both found in the Central Coast waters of California; and the return of Island Foxes, whose population dropped down to less than 100, is now back above 1,200.

Mr. Chairman, of course there are so many examples across the country--Florida panthers, gray wolves, grizzly bears--and hundreds more species that have not gone extinct after receiving protection under the act. These species can't wait any longer, and we can't let them disappear forever on our watch.

I strongly urge my colleagues to support Mr. Dicks' amendment to strike this irresponsible provision in the bill. We can and must do better. Our children and our grandchildren are depending upon us. [Page: H5559]

I yield back the balance of my time.

9:23 PM EDT

Rob Bishop, R-UT 1st

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I rise to support Mr. Dicks' idea but not the process he is using to get there.

It is one of the amazing things as you look about the debate on this particular amendment. It's like ships passing in the night--getting close but never actually touching because everyone who has spoken so far is saying the same thing: that we want to have an Endangered Species Act that works. This needs to be fixed or amended and changed in some way to make it work better, to involve the entire process so that everyone is working towards the same goal; but for some reason, it flat out is not

happening, and it's not happening because we have violated the process.

Everyone has said this is not the right place to try and fix the Endangered Species Act. That's also true, but it's the only process that's allowed because we have violated our own intent. Appropriators are supposed to appropriate funds to programs. Authorizers are supposed to create the programs and then every so often reauthorize those programs to make changes based on the need or to make sure that we are moving in the proper direction.

Let me introduce you, or at least remind you, of John Gochnauer--one of my favorite baseball players at the turn of the century with the Cleveland Indians. He was good enough to play regular shortstop for Cleveland, although the first year he played he committed 48 errors, and his batting average was 187. He was still good enough to stay around for the next year when, this time, his errors were just slightly under 100--he had a hard time hitting the first baseman when he threw--and his batting

average was, once again, 187.

I say that specifically because the most inept player ever to put on spikes and play Major League Baseball had a batting average of 187. The Endangered Species Act has listed over 2,000 species and saved 21 for a batting average of 10 if you round up. It's actually .009. That clearly indicates we can do better, and we need to do better.

So the question has to simply be why aren't we doing better? Why can't we fix this problem and have a better success rate?

The answer is very simple:

For 23 years, we have put riders on this particular appropriations act to fully fund the old program, which has prohibited the authorizing committee to ever get people together to make the program better.

Chairman Hastings has simply said his goal is to provide a process that improves the system--and there is room for improvement of the system--but to do that, you've got to get the players to sit down in the authorizing committees where this is supposed to be worked out. The Endangered Species Act needs to be expanded, needs to be fixed, needs to zero in to create people working together for a common goal.

I am actually grateful for Representative Dicks and Representative Simpson and what they have done in this bill. This amendment in the underlying bill does not destroy the Endangered Species Act. It doesn't even cut the funding for those species that are already being worked on. All it does is provide a change in the process to insist that people have to do what we should have been doing for the last 23 years--going to the authorizing committee and fixing the act, not just kicking

the can down the road by funding it year, after year, after year, after year, while only 21 species have recovered over the 2,000 that could have and should have been.

I'm sorry. That's what everyone is saying. We all want species to be preserved and recovered, but we all are failing in the process, and after 23 years, we should have learned what we have been doing in the past doesn't work. Maybe if we went back to the way the system was intended to be and was designed to function, we could actually move forward in this entire issue, which, oddly enough, is what everyone is saying.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

9:27 PM EDT

Lee Terry, R-NE 2nd

Mr. TERRY. Mr. Chairman, I urge defeat of this onerous and job-killing amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Murphy).

The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the ayes appeared to have it.

9:27 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. I will do this very briefly.

As I recall, from 1995 to 2007, the other side--the majority party today--was the majority party then, and I don't remember any great effort on the Endangered Species Act. I welcome it. I welcome that any act can be made better. Now you guys are in charge again, and you have another opportunity. I believe Mr. Bishop has been on the committee for quite a long time. I'm going to go look in his reform bill in the Record to see what has been happening here.

9:28 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I appreciate the gentleman's remarks. I would remind him, from the time that we did get control of Congress in 1995 until your side gained control after the 2006 election, that was the issue that the then-chairman--the last chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Richard Pombo from California--was working on. As a matter of fact, I think it was in 2005 that we did pass ES reform out of this House.

[Time: 21:30]

It did not go anyplace in the other body. So history tends to repeat itself.

9:29 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. Reclaiming my time, because I can't go on forever, I just would say nobody is stopping you. Hold your hearings. Have your meetings. Bring up the witnesses, but don't stop listing 260 candidate species until you get the job done.

9:30 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I've been chairman now for a little over 6 months. I have every intention to do that, and I want to work with the gentleman on this.

9:30 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. I yield to the gentleman from Idaho, my good friend and the chairman and former ranking member, one of the best ranking members I've ever had.

9:30 PM EDT

Mike Simpson, R-ID 2nd

Mr. SIMPSON. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Bishop had it exactly right. We all want the same thing. We want the Endangered Species Act, but we want the Endangered Species Act to work. And as you mentioned, Senator Kempthorne worked on it very hard, got it through the Senate when he was a Senator before he became Governor of Idaho. And it was some Republicans frankly in the House that stopped it because they didn't think it went far enough.

Unfortunately, if we just continue to do what we've done in the past, we're going to get exactly what we've gotten in the past, and that is no incentive for people to sit down and say we've got to work on this and we've got to get it done. And that's all we're trying to do.

9:31 PM EDT

Jim Moran, D-VA 8th

Mr. MORAN. I do think it might be instructive that Mr. Pombo is no longer among our ranks and the principle reason is the Endangered Species Act authorization that he attempted to write which was so destructive of the original intent of the Endangered Species Act of 1965, and it was a Republican Senate that defeated it.

9:31 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I just want to respond to my friend from Virginia.

The bill passed, if my memory serves me correctly, with bipartisan support.

But, yes, of course there are political risks in doing whatever we're doing in [Page: H5560]

this body; and we all face that. After all, this is the people's government. But the point is it needs--and we've been saying over and over, the ESA needs to be updated.

It's been 23 years, for goodness sake.

9:32 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. No one is objecting. I agree. We should look at how to improve the ESA. I don't like to hear these examples of where the process has not been able to be worked out. I have had to go through this as you have in the Pacific Northwest with the spotted owl, the marbled murrelet, salmon, et cetera. Now, those are starting to recover. We're making some progress, but I still believe we can make this act better.

I just think by taking out the ability to list and to have critical habitat, we're risking some of these species that are close to extinction.

And remember this: it's also about biodiversity, the web of life. We don't know how all of these things relate and whether something can be created, a medicine that could save lives in the future. And that's why trying to protect these species is an important thing.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from Washington has expired.

(On request of Mr. Simpson, and by unanimous consent, Mr. Dicks was allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)

9:33 PM EDT

Mike Simpson, R-ID 2nd

Mr. SIMPSON. I don't disagree with anything the gentleman just said. It's also important to remember that this amendment would take the caps off that have been in place since President Clinton and would undermine the Fish and Wildlife Service's budget to a great degree because it would then be controlled by the courts and by lawsuits. That's not where we want to go.