For Immediate Release
Oct. 15, 2013
Contact: Marty Fittante
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Tom Casperson testified Thursday in Washington, D.C. in front of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Congressional Working Group forum, led by Representatives Doc Hastings (WA-04) and Cynthia Lummis (WY-at large).
The forum, titled “Reviewing 40 Years of the Endangered Species Act and Seeking Improvement for People and Species,” featured 17 panelists representing diverse groups and interests from across the country who discussed ways in which the Endangered Species Act could be altered to better serve state issues and needs.
“Michigan residents and our natural resources, especially in the Upper Peninsula, have been significantly and adversely impacted by unreasonable restrictions that are found in or caused by the Endangered Species Act,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “While the law serves a worthwhile intent, it has been used for decades by those looking to limit use of the natural resources and land-based industries, which impacts local communities and impairs economic growth, especially in the U.P.”
Casperson specifically highlighted a few examples in which the Upper Peninsula has been unfavorably affected by the ESA. Damage and losses caused by species including wolves and cormorants have been exacerbated by protections through the ESA and other regulations. In addition, management of national forests has been limited with harvests at less than 50 percent of allowable sales quantities for many years, creating an artificial restraint on timber availability and damaging the forest products industry throughout the state in the process.
The recent attempts by the Marquette Road Commission to build County Road 595 were thwarted by federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service, who cited environmental concerns ranging from threatened and endangered species that “could” be present to wetlands regulations. Astoundingly, the agencies still raised concerns when the county offered to mitigate 22 acres of wetlands with 1,600 acres of wetlands.
After providing the examples, Casperson spoke of the need to allow more management on the local or state level, the need for balance within the law, and the need to address the ESA from being abused as a tool by those with an environmental agenda by habitually filing lawsuits to stop balanced and healthy management.
“I am extremely pleased that Senator Casperson was able to provide a voice for the State of Michigan on the Endangered Species Act Working Group forum here in Washington, D.C.,” said Congressman Bill Huizenga, who invited Casperson to testify because of his expertise and statewide leadership on the issue. “Due to the abundance of natural resources in Michigan, from the shorelines of our Great Lakes, to our many farms and forests, the ESA broadly impacts our state. I believe that we need to empower states, local governments, and private landowners to conserve species and avoid federal listings. Many of the decisions made in Michigan have proven that species protection and human activity can be compatible.”
The public is encouraged to submit written comments, ideas and recommendations to the Endangered Species Act Working Group at: esaworkinggroup.hastings.house.gov/esa/contact.htm and visit esaworkinggroup.hastings.house.gov to watch the archived video webcast from Thursday’s listening forum.