Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging, and other activities, the AP reports. Over the past eight years, GOP lawmakers sponsored dozens of measures aimed at curtailing the landmark law or putting species such as gray wolves and sage grouse out of its reach. Almost all were blocked by Democrats and the White House or lawsuits from environmentalists. "It has never been used for the rehabilitation of species. It's been used for control of the land," said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop. Bishop said he "would love to invalidate" the law.
The 1973 act was ushered though Congress nearly unanimously, in part to stave off extinction of the national symbol, the bald eagle. Now wolves have emerged as a prime example of what critics say is wrong with the current law: seemingly endless litigation that offers federal protection for species long after government biologists conclude that they have recovered. Other animals targeted by critics: Canada lynx, lesser prairie chicken, and salmon. Reforms proposed by Republicans include placing limits on lawsuits that have been used to maintain protections for some species and force decisions on others, as well as adopting a cap on how many species can be protected and giving states a greater say in the process. Read the full story here. (Read more Endangered Species Act stories.)