It was an endangered-species bill seemingly made in red-state heaven. The economic engine of Texas first, the myriad unique creatures fashioned by the God of the Bible second (complete with a commissioned study to recommend policies “to defend against the overreaching inclusion of species on the Endangered Species List by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.”) And yet Governor Rick Perry unexpectedly vetoed HB 3509 on Friday, blaming the expansion of oversight it would have fostered.
The bill by Republican Rep Dennis Bonnen (right), later joined by Rep Jason Villalba, proposed the creation of an Economic Growth & Endangered Species Task Force to oversee the state-federal endangered listings process in the state, where more than 100 individual species are now under review for enhanced protections.
Leading the task force would be representatives of the General Land Office, Texas Railroad Commission, Transportation Department, Department of Agriculture, and a few that actually know something about the state’s biodiversity, such as AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Parks & Wildlife.
In addition, each species would have been assigned an advisory committee divvied up four ways between potentially impacted landowners, municipalities, “affected business interests,” and representatives of conservation interests.
The product apparently made one mistake: it took control away from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs, who has overseen endangered species in the state ever since it was taken away from Texas Parks & Wildlife in a legislative sleight of hand executed by former Pampa Republican Warren Chisum in 2011.
While the bill’s original language had the Comptroller overseeing the Task Force, the element was struck later in the process, allowing the Comptroller control only during its first year of existence.
Perry vetoed the bill Friday saying:
House Bill 3509 would make substantial changes to a process that has been efficiently overseen since 2009 by the Comptroller of Public Accounts. This process should remain at a single agency rather than a nine member panel.
Combs has been hard at work creating false paradigms related to endangered species and economic development ever since. In an op-ed in the Washington Times she claimed, “Heavy-handed federal regulation can put some of our communities on the endangered list.”
Neither Bonnen nor Villalba were immediately available for comment.
For another view of our current extinction crisis, consider the viewpoint of many of the most prominent voices in conservation biology who are warning that the rapid loss of biodiversity around the world, the largest extinction event since the loss of the dinosaurs, is part of the potential collapse of the planet’s life-support mechanisms.
We’re still tabulating the economic value of that one.