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House committee votes to relax Endangered Species Act

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House eases rules on endangered species

A House panel passed four GOP-backed bills Thursday to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA), making compliance easier for industries, states and landowners.

The Natural Resources Committee’s bills would give priority to science submitted by state and local governments when federal officials decide whether to protect species, require the Interior Department to consider conservation actions that could happen in the future when making ESA decisions and let Interior prioritize or discharge petitions for species protections under some circumstances.

Taken as a whole, the bills would represent the biggest changes to the ESA in decades.

Republicans on the panel, led by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), said the changes would make the ESA work better for industry and landowners, as well as the imperiled species themselves.

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