The House passed a bill Tuesday that would require the government to disclose all data it relies upon when determining whether a species is endangered.
GOP supporters say the legislation was introduced in response to an increasing number of plant and animal species qualifying as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Critics warned it would increase bureaucracy and facilitate poaching.
Approved Tuesday by a 233-190 vote, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled
The bill "would add yet another administratively burdensome reporting requirement to an already long list of reporting requirements, diverting limited agency resources away from species recovery efforts toward more paperwork," the statement said.
Republicans contend that the bill is a way to increase government transparency, arguing that taxpayers have a right to know where their money is being spent to collect the data that inform how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the
“The people of this United States are paying for all this data," said Rep.
Critics of the bill say making the data available online could prevent scientists, local and state government officials and private landowners from sharing confidential information they do not want publicly disclosed. In addition, such information could reveal the locations of endangered animals, increasing the risk for poaching.
The cost of publishing the data could also be a concern, according to Ya-Wei "Jake" Li, a lawyer at the Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation organization. Li said it would be expensive to create and maintain the database needed to disclose all information. He added that agencies do not necessarily have the legal right to publish the data they receive.
"All it's going to do is create more red tape and create a whole new set of hurdles for species recovery," Li said. "It's not to reform the Endangered Species Act. It's to drastically weaken it."
At Tuesday’s House vote, Rep.