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Babbitt Attacks Endangered Species Freeze

A six-month freeze on new listings under the Endangered Species Act would constitute “a blunderbuss approach” to overhaul of the 1973 legislation, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said Tuesday.

“Obviously, I’m not here to support a moratorium,” Babbitt testified before a Senate environment subcommittee. “I must say that this is one of the more unusual ideas I have ever seen.”

The House has approved a moratorium but it is less sweeping than one in the proposed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Hers would prohibit any new listings of endangered or threatened species as well as designations of critical habitat through 1996 or until whenever the Endangered Species Act is reauthorized.

Hutchison, R-Texas, said her freeze would allow Congress to rewrite the Endangered Species Act free from the inflamed rhetoric surrounding new listings.

“Reauthorization of the act is made more difficult by the heated public debate over individual listings of species and by overzealous enforcement of the act by the Fish and Wildlife Service,” she testified. “It’s time to call a timeout on further listings.”


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