For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2018
E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher Submits Comments for the Proposed ESA Rule Changes
Applauds effort and calls for strengthening of delisting and recover provisions
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher submitted comments to the Department of Interior (DOI) Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS’) proposed rule: Endangered and Threatened Species: Listing Species and Designating Critical Habitat. Walcher, a 35-year public policy veteran and former head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) applauded the long overdue effort to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA), calling it “an outstanding start.”
Walcher noted, however that the proposed rule doesn’t address one of the major flaws of the ESA, “the failure to recover and delist species.”
Specifically, Walcher noted, “Most species still do not even have measurable recovery criteria in place, so there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Higher priority must be placed on delisting species that have recovered, or gone extinct, and significantly more resources should be spent on actual recovery, rather than interminable bureaucratic processes and meetings.”
Walcher pointed to his own experience as head of Colorado’s DNR where he saw first-hand the failure of the recovery and delisting process involving species of fish:
Colorado began by advocating the adoption of recovery goals for the four fish, measurable criteria that would determine when the fish would be considered recovered, and taken off the endangered list. The program’s lead agency (FWS) resisted for several years, as did the environmental groups represented as “stakeholders” on the program’s governing committee. The story of that years-long debate demonstrates how thoroughly the ESA process has become all about habitat and process, and how thoroughly the priority of recovery has been forgotten.
He added that DOI consider the proposed rules as a starting point, and then they should reprogram “funds and resources to strengthen the ESA’s recovery and delisting process.”
“This is a key intent of the original Act, and even more to the point, it is the right thing to do. These proposed reforms are a good start and they are long overdue, but a failure to take further serious steps to make recovery and delisting easier, would miss a serious opportunity to improve the environment our generation inherited,” Walcher concluded.
Greg Walcher is widely recognized and respected national leader in natural resources policy. He is the author of Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back, now in its second printing, writes a regular weekly newspaper column on natural resources and environment issues, and publishes a blog called “Resources and Reality” with several thousand subscribers. Walcher is President of the Natural Resources Group, a consulting firm specializing in wildlife, water, public lands, forestry, and energy.
He served in the Governor’s Cabinet as head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources from 1999-2004, and as president of the national organization of natural resources cabinet secretaries. He served on the Wildlife Commission, pioneering a State-based effort to reintroduce, recover, and delist endangered species, a highly successful and popular effort that changed the national dialog on the Endangered Species Act. Previously, Walcher spent a decade working in the U.S. Senate, and ten years as President of Club 20, a powerful Western Colorado coalition of counties, cities, businesses, and organizations.
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in promoting a responsible and balanced approach that conserves the environment and ensures a stable and strong economy through energy dominance. Specifically, E&E Legal advocates for responsible resource development, conservation, sound science, and a respect for property rights.