GOP investigates possible federal protections for bat species

GOP investigates possible federal protections for bat species
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The House Natural Resources Committee wants more information from the federal government before it decides whether to designate the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species.

The panel’s Republicans, led by Chairman Rob BishopRob BishopRepeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate Congress should stop trying to diminish public lands The Hill's Whip List: 36 GOP no votes on ObamaCare repeal plan MORE (R-Utah), wrote in a letter that they are worried that an endangered listing or even a lesser “threatened” designation, could “impose unnecessary regulatory burdens on economic development, forestry, wind power generation, energy development, agriculture, and conservation projects.”

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They sent the letter to the Fish and Wildlife Service, which proposed in 2013 to list the bat either as endangered or threatened, which could come with new regulations designed to protect it or its habitat.

Federal officials and Republicans agree that a disease known as white-nose syndrome is hurting the bat’s population, but they disagree on what actions, if any, could protect the species.

The agency said in January that it might use its regulatory power to create special rules meant to limit the impact on human activities when protecting the bat.

But the Republicans said even that proposal “provides inadequate protections to both long-standing and new activities that are vital to communities throughout the [bat]’s extensive range.”

Bishop and his colleagues asked Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe to provide them with a wide range of documentation concerning the agency’s research into the bat, justification for protections and communications with the Senate concerning similar questions.