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Introduced in House (10/27/1999)

Common Sense Protections for Endangered Species Act - Title I: Improving Scientific Integrity of Listing Decisions and Procedures - Amends the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) to require the Secretary of Commerce or the Interior, as appropriate: (1) to accord greater weight and preference to empirical data rather than extrapolations developed through modeling, when making determinations as to whether a species is endangered or threatened; and (2) consider the future conservation benefits to be provided to the species under species conservation plans or management or conservation agreements in making such determinations.

Directs the Secretary to promulgate scientifically valid standards for rendering taxonomic determinations of species and subspecies. Requires such standards to provide that to be eligible for determination as a subspecies under the Act, a subspecies must be reproductively isolated from other subspecific population units and constitute an important component in the evolutionary legacy of the species.

Expands provisions which allow petitions for proposed additions to, or removals from, endangered or threatened lists to authorize petitions for changing a species status from a previous determination with respect to such lists. Sets forth minimum requirements for information to be provided by petitions, including: (1) descriptions of available data on the historical and current range, population, and distribution of the species; (2) scientific evidence that the species population is declining or has declined from historic population levels; (3) appraisals of available data on the threats to the species or the causes of its decline; (4) an identification of information contained in the petition that has been peer-reviewed or field-tested; and (5) the reason that the petitioned action is warranted.

Sets forth requirements for notification of State Governors and affected tribes to solicit advice as to whether the petitioned action is warranted. Provides for peer review of any determination that an action is warranted if it is in direct conflict with information submitted by a Governor or tribe.

Permits any person to intervene as a matter of right in suits under judicial review upon demonstrating that a determination to list a species will have a direct economic effect on the person.

Prohibits the Secretary from making a determination that a species is threatened or endangered in a State if a Governor or a tribe provides scientific evidence that a determination is not warranted, unless the Secretary shows by a preponderance of scientific evidence that the information submitted by the State or tribe is incorrect.

Requires a public meeting to be held in each State that would be affected by a proposed regulation regarding endangered or threatened species, at the request of any person. Limits the total number of meetings to five.

Requires proposed regulations to implement endangered or threatened species determinations to be based on peer-reviewed scientific information that has been, to the maximum extent feasible, verified by field testing.

Directs the Secretary, concurrently with a determination that a species warrants listing, to publish an analysis of the economic, social, and other public health, safety, and welfare effects the listing may have.

(Sec. 102) Replaces provisions regarding recovery plans with those setting forth requirements for scientific peer review of proposed actions to list a species, remove a species from the list, designate, or revise the designation of, critical habitat, propose alternatives, or establish mitigation obligations.

(Sec. 103) Makes data or information considered by the Secretary in making the determination to list subject to the Freedom of Information Act unless the Secretary determines that the information must be kept confidential. Bars the Secretary from publicly disclosing the location of particular private property as habitat for an endangered or threatened species unless the property owner is notified first and consents or the information is otherwise public.

Title II: Complying With All Federal Laws and Missions - Authorizes Federal agencies implementing land use or land and resource management plans to authorize, fund, or carry out a site-specific ongoing or previously scheduled action prior to completing consultation with the Secretary if no consultation is required or the Secretary issues a biological opinion and the action satisfies relevant requirements.

Requires Federal agencies, upon determining that duties under other Federal laws conflict with those under the ESA, to request the President to resolve the conflict. Authorizes Federal agencies to proceed with proposed actions if consultation is not concluded and the Secretary fails to provide a required statement by the applicable deadline.

Provides for the participation of persons who have sought authorization or funding subject to consultation in consultation proceedings.

Bars permit or license applicants subject to consultation requirements regarding endangered or threatened species from being subject to new or additional requirements for the specific protection of any species beyond those identified in the Secretary's original statement.

(Sec. 202) Permits consultation to be waived by a Federal agency, in response to a natural event or other emergency, for the repair or maintenance of a natural gas pipeline, hazardous liquid pipeline, flood control facility, or electrical distribution transmission or substation facility if the repair or maintenance is necessary to address an imminent threat to human lives or a significant threat to the environment.

(Sec. 203) Replaces provisions regarding the Endangered Species Committee (established for the purpose of granting exemptions to consultation requirements) with those authorizing the Secretary to grant exemptions for reasons of national security and the President to grant exemptions for major disaster areas, subject to certain conditions.

Eliminates specified requirements for exemptions and judicial review under consultation provisions.

Title III: Permitting and Enforcement - Describes conditions under which an activity of a non-Federal person is not a taking of a species, including if it: (1) addresses a critical threat to public health or safety or a natural event; or (2) is incidental to carrying out an otherwise lawful activity such as maintenance, use, or repair of pipelines, flood control facilities, fire breaks, transmission and distribution lines, specified water facilities, and roads and rights-of-way or certain emergency repair.

(Sec. 302) Revises provisions regarding citizen suits to permit civil suits by injured parties to enjoin the United States if the violation poses immediate and irreparable harm to a threatened or endangered species. (Current law authorizes suits to enjoin any person alleged to be in violation of the Act.)

(Sec. 303) Revises provisions regarding incidental take permits, adding deadlines and administrative requirements for the Secretary on permit actions. Provides that no additional measures to minimize and mitigate impacts on a species that is the subject of such a permit shall be required of a permittee that is in compliance with the permit. Bars any additional restrictions on land or water under the permit without the permittee's consent.

Prohibits the Secretary from requiring, as a condition of an incidental take permit, that a permittee for a public project take any measures to minimize or mitigate impacts of a taking: (1) if the costs of implementing such measures will exceed ten percent of the total project costs; or (2) for any activity that occurred prior to the date of permit issuance.

(Sec. 304) Authorizes the Secretary to: (1) enter into "safe harbor" agreements with non-Federal persons to benefit the conservation of endangered or threatened species by creating, restoring, or improving habitat or by maintaining currently unoccupied habitat; and (2) provide a grant of up to $10,000 to any individual private landowner to assist the landowner in carrying out such an agreement.

Title IV: Recovery Planning - Requires the Secretary, on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available, to develop and implement plans for the conservation and recovery of endangered and threatened species unless a plan will not promote the conservation of the species or an existing plan or strategy for conservation already serves as the functional equivalent of such plan.

Gives priority to plans that: (1) address significant and immediate threats to the survival of a species, have the greatest likelihood of achieving species recovery, and will benefit species that are more taxonomically distinct; (2) address multiple species that are dependent on the same habitat as the endangered or threatened species; (3) reduce conflicts with construction, development projects, jobs, agriculture, private property, or other economic activities; and (4) reduce conflicts with military training and operations.

Establishes deadlines for the publication of draft and final recovery plans.

Sets forth requirements for: (1) recovery teams appointed to develop recovery plans; and (2) recovery plans, including objective, measurable benchmarks to determine whether progress is being made toward the biological recovery goal recommended by the team.

Establishes deadlines for the Secretary's review of existing and future plans. Provides for revision of plans if new information indicates that recovery goals will not achieve conservation and recovery.

Revises provisions regarding designations of critical habitat. Authorizes the Secretary to designate critical habitat concurrently with the determination that a species is endangered or threatened if such designation is essential to avoid imminent extinction.

Sets forth conditions under which States may develop recovery plans.

Requires the Secretary to establish the Office of Species Recovery in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to: (1) provide support services to recovery teams to develop recovery plans; (2) seek the recovery of all endangered or threatened species; (3) make all determinations to remove a species from a list; and (4) assist in the designation of critical habitat.

Title V: Miscellaneous - Authorizes appropriations to the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture to carry out the ESA.