GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah slammed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Thursday for its narrow margin of official recovery for groups of animals on the brink of extinction.
Bishop joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers near the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to announce a series of nine bills reforming the ESA. The bills focus on empowering state and local officials and researchers in the process of determining whether a species needs federal protection to survive.
Bishop began his remarks telling reporters the story of John Gochnaur, the “most inept player in the history” of major league baseball. Gochnaur was “still good enough to play, but still the worst player in the game” with a career batting average of .187, meaning he hit a ball fewer than once every five times he went to bat, playing from 1901 to 1903. His last year in the league, Gochnaur committed 98 errors in 134 games playing shortstop, the worst fielding percentage ever.
“I tell you that because the batting average of the Endangered Species Act, the number of species that have been rehabilitated since they were listed … the Endangered Species Act is batting .100, if you round up,” Bishop said. “It’s actually .095.”
“That means the Endangered Species Act is the most inept program we have in the federal government,” Bishop told reporters.
Bishop’s assessment of the ESA’s success rate might be generous. The actual recovery rate of species after errors are taken into account, such as species listed based on faulty data, is around 1 percent, according to an April report from the Heritage Foundation. (RELATED: Report: Feds Are Wasting Billions Protecting ‘Endangered’ Animals That Are Just Fine)
The rate at which species have successfully recovered obscures the real success of the act, critics argue. While few species have been delisted, around 99 percent of species ever placed under federal protection are still around.
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