The House of Representatives Sept. 29 passed H.R. 3824, the “Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005” (TESRA), by a vote of 229-193. TESRA would update the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by eliminating federal authority to set aside large pieces of land under auspices of “critical habitat” for threatened species and provide incentives for private landowners to participate in species recovery programs. The measure will define criteria for the “best available scientific data” for regulatory decision-making.
ARTBA worked with House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) and other members of the committee on the development and passage of TESRA. In a Sept. 28 letter, ARTBA told Representatives the vagueness inherent in the current ESA has led to extensive delays to transportation construction projects and would eliminate many of the opportunities for excessive ESA-related litigation by establishing standards for scientific data used in decisions made under the act. The Senate is expected to take up the measure early next year.