Huizenga endangered species act aims to cap attorney fees

March 27, 2014
Rep. Bill Huizenga

Rep. Bill Huizenga

Washington, DC – Thursday, Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) introduced H.R. 4318, The Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act.  This one page (front and back) piece of legislation reforms the litigation process surrounding the Endangered Species Act (ESA) while enhancing wildlife preservation, improving government efficiency, and protecting taxpayer dollars.

“One of the original goals of the Endangered Species Act Working Group was to improve the Endangered Species Act for both species and society,” said Huizenga. “The Working Group received many comments detailing how ESA decisions need to be made less susceptible to litigation.  Currently, attorneys representing non-governmental entities have been awarded huge sums. In many cases attorney billing rates have climbed as high as $300, $400, or even $500 per hour with hardworking American Taxpayers footing the bill. In times of tight fiscal budgets and escalating national debt, taxpayer dollars should be prioritized for the protection and recovery of species, not warrantless litigation.

“The Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act makes the ESA consistent with other government litigation cases by placing the same $125 cap on the hourly rate of taxpayer-funded fees that may be awarded to attorneys that prevail in ESA cases.  This bill makes government more efficient and more effective by ensuring that ESA resources are available for species protection and recovery instead of filling the pockets of lawyers.”

Background:

The Endangered Species Act was signed into law in 1973 and was last reauthorized in 1988.

Last May, Congressman Huizenga was selected to join the Endangered Species Act Working Group. Since the last reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) took place over 25 years ago, this group was created to examine the ESA from all angles and look for potential ways to improve the act for both society and species.

Over the past year, the ESA Working Group has been examining various questions surrounding the Endangered Species Act including the following: What is the appropriate way to measure ESA progress; how is success defined regarding the ESA; Is litigation driving the ESA; and what are the roles of state and local governments in recovering species?

Congressman Huizenga is one of four members of the working group introducing legislation to reform the Endangered Species Act.

For more information on legislation to reform the Endangered Species Act click here.

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