Bill would allow states to regulate endangered species

States could opt out of the Endangered Species Act's (ESA) regulations under legislation introduced Tuesday in the House and Senate.

The Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act would reflect a major overhaul of the national system for protecting threatened species and their habitat, and is meant to give state governments more sway over land use decisions.

The measure, which is likely to face major opposition from congressional Democrats and the White House, was introduced by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), along with Rep Mark Amodei (R-Nev.).

“By removing the red tape, state governments will be better equipped to manage, regulate, develop and implement recovery plans for their critical habitats,” Paul said in a statement issued by the lawmakers.

In a letter soliciting co-sponsors from among the ranks of his fellow House members, Amodei said more than 2,000 species have been regulated under the (ESA) since the landmark law was passed 40 years ago.

As a result, millions of acres of land has been set aside as critical habitat. Yet less than one percent of the species are ever removed from the list, he argued.

“Bureaucrats in Washington should not be able to lock-up millions of acres of land and devastate entire local economies simply to avoid lawsuits from environmental organizations,” Amodei wrote. “Local governments should determine how best to manage their lands and have the ability to choose recovery plans that work for their state.”

Beyond the state opt-out allowance, the legislation would require approval of a joint congressional resolution for any new species to be added to the federal endangered species, and all added species would be automatically delisted after give years.

Further, the bill would entitle any private property owner to compensation totaling 150 percent of fair market value if the federal statute diminishes the value of their land by 50 percent or more.