A bill that would make economic effects a consideration in listing species for Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection, is making its way through Congress.

The "Sound Science for Endangered Species Act Planning Act of 2002," HR 4840, was introduced in the spring by Representative James Hansen of Utah, chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Resources. That panel reported the bill out to the House calendar on October 15, after it won 22-to-18 approval in July.

The bill has the backing of the Bush Administration, while environmental groups and some scientists fear it would end listings under the ESA by making the process too long and expensive. Among other things, the amendment would require federal regulators to consider commercial as well as scientific information when deciding whether a species is in jeopardy. Current law allows commercial interests to be considered only after scientific data has established that a...

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