Salmon School Underwater

On May 16, 2018, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed six bills, including the Federally Integrated Species Health Act (H.R. 3916).  H.R. 3916 is sponsored by Representative Ken Calvert, a Republican representing the 42nd Congressional District in California.  The bill proposes to amend the federal Endangered Species Act to vest the Secretary of Interior with Endangered Species Act authority over fish species that migrate between fresh and ocean waters, such as the endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinnok salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha).  Currently, that authority is vested in the Secretary of Commerce.  As a result, when dealing with water related projects in coastal states, often times the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (which is part of the Department of Interior) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (which is part of the Department of Commerce) will each have Endangered Species Act jurisdiction over fish species in the project area.  This dual oversight can lead to issues with respect to the evaluation and implementation of the Endangered Species Act.  The press release issued by the House Committee on Natural Resources described H.R. 3916 as a bipartisan attempt to reduce “regulatory duplication in enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.”