Press Releases

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) urged the Obama administration to reverse course on three proposals that will expand federal mandates and control of property by reinterpreting the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a law which has been on the books for more than 40 years. The proposals will make it easier to designate property as “critical habitat.”

In a letter to the administration, Boozman, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Water & Wildlife, pressured the administration to withdraw the proposals and was joined by three Senate colleagues who serve as Ranking Members on other committees with oversight on the ESA.   

“This latest effort follows patterns in this administration of using a decades-old law to expand DC mandates,” Boozman said. “The administration has been trying to set-aside hundreds of miles of rivers and streams in Arkansas as critical habitat, without answering basic scientific questions to justify their actions. They haven’t been honest about the costs, and now they are reinterpreting the law to make it easier to set-aside even more land for no good reason.” 

Under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposals, the federal government would claim the authority to designate as ‘critical habitat’ areas where a protected species is not present, even if the areas where the species does exists are sufficient for the conservation of the species. They are also claiming authority to designate ‘critical habitat’ in areas that do not have the characteristics essential to the conservation of the species. 

“These assertions are an overreach not supported by the plain text of the ESA. If the Services believe the ESA needs to be amended to address what they believe may be the future effects of climate change, their only avenue for that authority is through Congress and not around it,” the Senators wrote in the letter. 

Read the letter signed by Boozman and Senators David Vitter (R-LA), John Thune (R-SD) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in its entirety here

Boozman has worked with the congressional delegation in challenging the critical habitat designation for the Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot Mussel in Arkansas. The Arkansas Congressional Delegation introduced legislation earlier this year to push back on the administration’s critical habitat designation efforts.  

Boozman and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) are also co-authors of legislation which would limit the administration’s “sue-and-settle” practice, under which the government settles “friendly” lawsuits with plaintiffs to claim a “court mandate” for regulatory action. The agency’s current efforts in Arkansas flow from such a settlement agreement.  


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