WH threatens veto of endangered species bill

The White House issued a veto threat Tuesday ahead of a House vote on GOP-backed legislation to modify the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The legislation, known as the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act would add new requirements that Interior and Commerce departments publish data online regarding decisions to list a species as "endangered" or "threatened."

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is the lead sponsor of the measure, which also includes language from a trio of other bills seeking to change the ESA.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) argues that the package “would rigidly constrain science, public input, and data in making Endangered Species Act determinations.”

Under the bill, scientific data from states, counties or tribal governments used to make designation decisions would trump that of the federal government, according to OMB.

“This would compromise the scientific basis for ESA decisions by requiring Federal agencies to consider information based on its source rather than its substance,” the White House contends.

The administration also argues against the requirement that all data used to make decisions be published on the internet, saying it would discourage data-sharing between scientist government entities and private landowners.

The White House said the legislation would add new reporting responsibilities for agencies, “diverting limited agency resources away from species recovery efforts toward more paperwork.”

“If the President were presented with [the bill] his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill,” OMB warned.

The legislation has attracted more than two-dozen co-sponsors and a companion bill is pending in the Senate. A vote on the House measure is expected Tuesday.

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