WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today praised the passage of Congressman Frank Lucas' (R-OK-3) amendment to the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that subsequently passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives today. The amendment effectively removes the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) from being listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for a period of five years and delists the American Burying Beetle (ABB), which has been listed as endangered since 1989. The amendment passed by a vote of 229-190.
“I applaud the House of Representatives for voting to effectively remove the Lesser Prairie Chicken and to remove the American Burying Beetle from the Endangered Species Act list,” said Inhofe. “Oklahoma has long been plagued by the ABB’s 1989 listing as an endangered species. Since that time, its known population has skyrocketed, and in turn Oklahomans have been burdened with excessive red tape and costs in working to grow the state's economy around the habitat of this thriving beetle. As we've see with the ABB, the Fish and Wildlife Service has not demonstrated it can quickly remove a species from the list once conservation has occurred, underscoring our need to also remove the LPC from its listing. Oklahoma will successfully conserve the LPC; we do not need the federal government’s help, nor do we need them to stay in our way once conservation has occurred, as has happened with the ABB. This House amendment on the National Defense Authorization Act was successful because of the great teamwork shown among the Oklahoma Congressional delegation.”
On May 6, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe announced in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing that the agency will begin review this month of the status of the ABB. In 2008, FWS completed a status review on the ABB that recommended updating the beetle’s recovery plan. The recovery plan was never updated and FWS has not established criteria for delisting the insect.
In the 113th Congress, Inhofe introduced the American Burying Beetle Relief Act of 2014 (S.2678) to remove ABB from the list of endangered species under ESA. He also introduced the Lesser Prairie Chicken Voluntary Recovery Act of 2014 (S.2677) to remove the LPC from the list of threatened species under ESA for a period of five years to allow the state-driven conservation plans to take affect.