Pombo launches new bid to rewrite Endangered Species Act

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) plans to fast-track legislation he introduced yesterday that would rewrite the Endangered Species Act — much to the consternation of environmental advocates. Chair of the House Resources Committee, Pombo has long aimed to overhaul the landmark law, and with this latest version of his bill he managed to get six Democrats to join eight Republicans as cosponsors. The legislation contains several provisions long sought by property-rights advocates, including one that would eliminate current ESA requirements that critical habitat be designated for listed species. The bill would also require the feds to compensate landowners at fair market value if potential uses of their property were curtailed by efforts to protect endangered species. The legislation is a “big step backwards for endangered species conservation,” says Michael Bean of Environmental Defense. Though the bill may pass the House, it’s thought the Senate won’t be eager to take on a divisive ESA debate this year.