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ESA: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 111th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1543) has been one of the more contentious environmental laws. This may stem from its strict substantive provisions, which can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Under ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are usually harbingers of broader ecosystem decline. The most common cause of species listing is habitat loss. ESA is considered a primary driver of large-scale ecosystem restoration issues.

Read more: ESA: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

Bingaman on DOI Budget

Senate Committee to hold hearing on proposed DOI Budget

(Feb 3, 2010) - President Obama’s proposed $12.2 billion budget for the Department of the Interior will boost funding for several programs which are priorities to Chairman Bingaman, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, adaptation of public lands to climate change and renewable energy projects on Federal lands and waters.  Royalty reforms and new fees on oil and gas companies are proposed to offset increased costs for the conventional energy programs and to ensure a favorable return to American U.S. taxpayers.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) strongly supports the increases proposed for Department of the Interior’s (DOI) programs in the President’s Budget Request for FY 2011, which are being proposed against a backdrop of overall budgetary stringency for Federal programs.  Bingaman is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has principal responsibility for the Interior Department.

111th Congress Halftime Highlights

(Dec 21, 2009) - As the first session of the 111th draws (slowly) to a close, many reporters have started to assemble the time-honored “year in review” stories.  Because our job is to help you do your job, we want to highlight the accomplishments which made 2009 such a busy and successful year for the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources.

For those who need numbers: in 2009 the Committee held 56 hearings on matters relating to energy policy, public lands, climate change, green tech, water policy, nuclear waste, wildfires and nominations, among other topics.  The Committee held 19 mark-ups …ordered reported 36 bills and resolutions and 27 nominations … and organized 75 bipartisan staff briefings.

Read more: 111th Congress Halftime Highlights

California Desert Protection Act of 2010

Bill Summary

Title I: California Desert Conservation and Recreation

Sec 101: Amendments to the California Desert Protection Act of 1994

Title XIII: Mojave Trails National Monument.

  • Establishes a national monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protecting 941,000 acres of federal land between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Preserve along historic Route 66 in San Bernardino County.
  • Protects approximately 266,000 acres of land that were donated to or purchased by the federal government over the last decade for conservation.
  • Maintains existing recreation uses, including hunting, vehicular travel on existing open roads and trails, grazing, camping, horseback riding, rock collecting, etc.
  • Permits the construction of transmission lines to facilitate the transfer of renewable energy generated in the California desert and adjacent states.
  • Provides solar energy companies with potential projects currently proposed inside the monument boundaries to relocate to federal solar energy zones being developed by the Department of the Interior.
  • Establishes an advisory committee to develop the management plan for the monument.  The committee will be comprised of representatives from local, state and federal government, conservation and recreation groups, and local Native American tribes.
  • Read more: California Desert Protection Act of 2010

Senators Feinstein and Merkley Introduce Measure to Spur Renewable Energy Development

Measure would extend and expand Treasury Department grant program

Washington, DC (Dec 17, 2009) – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) today introduced a measure to spur the development of renewable energy employment and construction, such as wind and solar farms and solar panel factories. The bill would primarily extend and expand a popular Treasury Department grant program that was established in Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in order to help diminish the impact of the economic crisis on the renewable energy sector.

Read more: Senators Feinstein and Merkley Introduce Measure to Spur Renewable Energy Development

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