Tipton, Obama Wildlife Official Spar Over Sage Grouse

August 2, 2013
TIPTON:  Colorado property owners affected by a proposal to list the sage grouse as an endangered species should be compensated for the loss of their ability to earn a living

TIPTON: Property owners affected by a proposal to list the sage grouse as an endangered species should be compensated

WASHINGTON — Colorado property owners affected by a federal proposal to list the sage grouse as an endangered species should be compensated for the loss of their ability to earn a living from the land, Rep. Scott Tipton said Thursday.

The Colorado Republican asked Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe at a House hearing if the federal government planned to compensate those who would no longer be able to raise crops or cattle on property claimed for the bird’s critical habitat.

“No,” Ashe replied sharply.

The proposed map of the listing and bird’s wide-ranging territory over two million acres of Colorado and parts of Utah would put public and private lands off limits to most use or development including crops and livestock grazing, if it is given protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“These are families that are worried about their future,” Tipton said. “You just told me the federal government isn’t going to give one bit of compensation if they are hurting people’s businesses, their ability to be able to put food on their tables.”

Don’t we need to take another look at this and some of the implementation?”

“Do you see a problem with that?” Tipton said.

Ashe told the committee that the Obama administration is following the law, and if Congress wants private property owners compensated, that would have to be written into law as well.

“All of us Americans are required to comply with the law,” Ashe said.

But the law being implemented by the Interior Department agency is actually part of a “mega settlement” from lawsuits filed by environmentalists to list nearly 780 species as endangered by 2016, a settlement that critics say was finalized behind closed doors and with the use of questionable data.

The House Resources Committee hearing was called to examine the transparency of the science of those decisions and how it will affect humans, particularly those who own or use the land.

“The Obama administration publicly touts that it is the most transparent in history,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, Washington Republican and committee chairman.

“However, it’s ESA-related actions—through executive orders, court settlements with litigious groups, and rules to list species—instead force regulatory actions that shut out Congress, states, local communities, private landowners—even scientists who may dispute the often sketchy or unverifiable data used for these decisions,” Hastings said.

Rob Roy Ramey, an independent scientist from Nederland, Colo., told the panel that the court settlements had created a “bio-blitzkrieg” of ESA listings that is doing a disservice to bona-fide conservation efforts.

“Every time another species is added to the list of threatened and endangered species, or a new deadline is imposed by litigants, the resources to recover species becomes more thinly spread,” Ramey said.

“Throwing more money at the problem is not the solution, nor is allowing decision making by fiat,” Ramey said.

“The solution is to ensure that the scientific evaluations are done properly the first time, and that means relying upon data and objective application of the scientific method, as required by the ESA,” Ramey said.

Ramey listed a myriad of scientific errors or emissions with listings involving the grouse as well as other contentious decisions involving the Prebles meadow jumping mouse, desert bighorn sheep, and delta smelt among others, including mathematical errors, missing data, errors of omission, biased sampling, undocumented methods, inaccurate mapping, fabricated data substituted for missing data, or no data at all.

“Clearly, the agency’s scientific peer review process that should have caught these errors is not as effective as it is portrayed to be,” Ramey said.

Although the mega settlements were intended to decrease the number of lawsuits forcing hurried deadlines on endangered species listings, Hastings said the same groups have filed or threatened to file an additional 125 lawsuits.

The hearing comes on the heels of a new inspector general report of scientific misconduct at the Fish and Wildlife Service that also revealed whistleblowers were punished for exposing the wrongdoing.

“The failure to take timely and appropriate management action by FWS senior leadership, to include Director Dan Ashe, damages the credibility and integrity of the Department of the Interior and the FWS science program as well as senior leadership,” Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall said in the report.

Ashe told lawmakers that agency scientists are working with “the best information we have available.”

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

5 Responses to Tipton, Obama Wildlife Official Spar Over Sage Grouse

  1. Glenn Koons
    August 2, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Here we go again. We have over-reaching leftists in the EPA, FWS, and other liberal regulatory agencies who hate capitalism now killing Colo. 2 million acres are going to be wasted for a …grouse. Are these people nuts? Of course, we want moderate enviro rules to keep people, animals and….. legal farm, industrial, business entities healthy and still have a love for animals et al. But, liberals have gone to war with free enterprise to save the snail darter, the Ca, 2 in. fish and frankly this is now insanity. Voters have to stop this madness or legal businesses will continue to tank or leave wacky states where out of control enviro liberalism is ruining the state.

  2. zippy
    August 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Please list a credible source that shows millions of acres will suddenly be closed to all crop production and grazing.

    • scott
      August 6, 2013 at 8:42 am

      please review the listing decision for the proposed habitat areas

  3. Charles W. Thompson
    August 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    The F&WS, FS wildlife services, and various State wildlife agencies have become the places of worship for thousands of new radical environmental converts pouring from our universities, and states like Colorado, Alaska, et.al. are their Meccas. The culprits lie in universities stocked with liberal environmentalist priests (masquerading as professors)who brainwash these kids with the notion that Humans are a weed species in our ecosystems and need to be eliminated ASAP. This has been going on for over 40 years, so no wonder we are seeing fool legislation like NEPA and ESA and wacko regulations that could not pass Constitutional standards 50 years ago. This administration has certainly escalated the insanity. The solution is to make the bureaucrats live the restrictions they impose on otherwise law abiding tax payers. You steal away a citizen’s livelihood with an arrogant statement like “We all have to obey the law” and you may find yourself at the end of a very expensive lawsuit.

  4. Dave West
    August 6, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I believe that many if not most of the environmental lawsuits are filed because of a federal law that allows these groups to file without risk of cost to them. The law allows them to recover their “costs” regardless of the outcome. Some of the suits are purely delay tactics to prevent appropriate actions from taken in a timely manner. Thus timber that could be recovered after a fire is made useless by the delay cause by the lawsuit. It has been proven that the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have been pressured into taking irresponsible actions against land and water right and grazing rights owners. Google Hage v BLM for lots of details. Until the Congress passes legislation to stop these “FREE” lawsuits by the many groups flying the Green Banner the madness will continue. Also see the 4ths8@wordpress.com


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