Industry Praises Kempthorne’s Species Act Bill Conservation Group Calls It An Endangered Extinction Act, Rewrite Of Gorton’s Bill
Idaho’s timber industry and a national union representing Potlatch Corp. employees praise U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne’s bill as bringing a balance to the Endangered Species Act.
But the Idaho Conservation League pans the measure and another national union with Potlatch workers charges the Idaho Republican with pandering to the timber industry’s job threats.
Kempthorne on Thursday said his bill strikes a balance by changing the existing act’s directive of total recovery regardless of cost or consequence.
The measure relies on incentives and partnerships instead of regulations and protects private property rights, he said.
Intermountain Forest Industry Association executive vice president Jim Riley said Kempthorne’s proposal is a sensible approach to managing imperiled species.
“This legislation will take care of species in decline without creating huge new government programs, which only serve themselves rather than the needs of the American public,” he said.
“We are pleased that Kempthorne’s bill offers a mechanism for the federal government to weigh a species recovery plan against the social and economic impact of implementing such a plan.”
But John McCarthy of the Idaho Conservation League said the group is disappointed.
“I thought Kempthorne was trying to come up with a bridge between the people who want strong protection of the species and people with concerns about business and people’s work,” he said.
“This is an endangered extinction act. It is a slickly crafted (Washington Sen. Slade) Gorton rewrite. It sounds better, smells a little better, but when you look at it closely, it is garbage.”
Kempthorne contended his bill has different approaches than Gorton’s regarding states’ rights, establishing standards and the creation of incentives for private landowners.
U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, who is co-sponsoring Gorton’s measure, said he backs Kempthorne’s bill because of its potentially broad impact on Idaho and the nation.
As a result of the current act, Idaho has suffered drastic reductions in the timber supply, sawmill closures and job losses, he said. He said it caused the summer recreation pool at Dworshak Reservoir reduced to mudflats and unusable for boating to help the salmon downstream.
Bill Hubbell of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said he applauds Kempthorne’s bill because it considers jobs and people along with plants and wildlife.
However, United Paperworkers International Union spokesman John Enagonio charged Gorton and Kempthorne with feeding at the industry’s trough.
“While under the cover of the so-called wise-use movement, they are spearheading the GOP broadside against all kinds of government regulation,” he said recently. “The industry is using job desperation around timber shortages as a wedge issue to help the right-wing agenda.”
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