Legislation that would help local governments combat high unemployment and foreclosures in San Bernardino County by amending the Endangered Species Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on Friday.
Rep. Joe Baca, the only Democrat to represent San Bernardino County, introduced bipartisan legislation to amend the Endangered Species Act so that a species could no longer be permanently listed as endangered. Along with Democratic representatives Dennis Cardoza, Jim Costa and Henry Cuellar, Republican representatives Ken Calvert, Jerry Lewis – who also represents San Bernardino County – Tom McClintock and Don Young also co-sponsored the bill.
Baca said in a press release that he introduced the legislation because local governments have experienced problems with the Delhi Sands Flower-Loving Fly in the Inland Empire, a name given to the Inland counties of San Bernardino and Riverside to separate them from the coastal areas of southern California in the Greater Los Angeles area. The fly was first placed on the Endangered Species List in 1993.
According to Baca’s press release, the fly has not been seen in the past decade but is still listed as endangered. Local governments have complained that the fly’s endangered listing has caused regulations from that to limit economic development in many communities in the Inland area. San Bernardino County already has increased homelessness, extreme home foreclosure numbers for the past several years and a high unemployment rate – 14.1 percent in January, according to statistics the California Employment Development Department released in early March – so the regulations have made it that much more difficult for the county to prosper.
“Since the USFWS first placed the Delhi Sands Flower-Loving Fly on the Endangered Species list in 1993, thousands of jobs have been lost, development has been stalled and millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted due to ESA compliance requirements,” Baca said. “Now, with substantial evidence that the fly is indeed extinct, it is an inefficient use of government resources and a harmful impediment to local economic development to needlessly keep the status quo. I am hopeful that this legislation will help assist our local communities in their efforts to move forward with critical development projects, and jump start new job creation in these difficult times.”
The Discredit Eternal Listing Inequality of Species Takings Act would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to give an administrative review of a species after it has been listed as endangered for 15 years. In order for a species to be kept on the Endangered Species List, the review would have to show a substantial increase of the population. The DELIST Act also would change the definition of extinction to give the Fish and Wildlife Services the ability to call a protected species extinct if the 15-year review showed no evidence the species existed any longer.
“The Endangered Species Act has done much good, and continues to protect some of our nation’s most treasured living creatures,” Baca said. “But the continued listing of many species that, frankly, seem to no longer exist has had a detrimental impact on local communities and businesses throughout our nation. I believe this responsible legislation will uphold the important mission of the ESA, while also making sure economic development is not hamstrung by unnecessary regulatory burdens.”
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