press release

Sept. 13, 2011, 11:27 p.m. EDT

United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) Applauds House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Leadership of Chairman Darrell Issa in Shining Light on Industry Killing FWS Rule

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- On September 14, 2011, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform will receive expert testimony from David Barker, renowned herpetologist, python expert and USARK member, at a hearing entitled "How A Broken Process Leads To Flawed Regulation." Chaired by Congressman Darrel Issa (R-CA), the Committee's hearing will focus on several proposed federal rules as examples of flawed regulatory development and review processes. Included is a proposed rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listing several species of snake - many of which are held as common pets - as "injurious" under the Lacey Act, thereby criminalizing interstate trade.

Two panels will present testimony before the full committee. One is solely comprised of Mr. Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which conducts regulatory review and oversight. The other will be made up of five witnesses, including individuals from the private sector, including Mr. Barker, testifying about the adverse economic impacts of poorly conceived regulations. It will also have John Graham, President Bush's OIRA chief, and a representative of a non-governmental organization.

The FWS rule on constrictor snakes promises to be one of the most interesting topics. While impacting only a small segment of the population, this proposed regulation has the potential to devastate an entire sector of the pet industry, costing jobs and family livelihoods while criminalizing the actions of approximately 1 million American pet owners, breeders and hobbyists.

As Mr. Barker notes in his testimony, "[T]he FWS proposal is a job-killing solution in search of a problem."

USARK filed formal comments challenging FWS's proposed rule as lacking a scientific basis and challenging the agency's failure to conduct adequate cost-benefit analysis. Based on a single flawed study that has been widely criticized by the scientific community, the rule disregards other government agency and academic institution studies that contradict these findings. Additionally, by failing to estimate the rule's costs and economic impacts on the small business community, and to explore less burdensome alternatives offered by the industry, the proposal runs afoul of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. For these and other reasons, the proposed rule fails to meet President Obama's recently announced standards for scientific integrity and data quality, regulatory guidance, and minimization of impacts on small businesses.

A formal challenge by the USARK under the Information Quality Act questioning the "science" underpinning the rule, was dismissed by FWS, in spite of the fact that the report has been criticized by a group of 11 scientists from the National Geographic Society, University of Florida, Texas A&M and other institutions calling it, among other things, "not scientific," and further, "unsuitable as the basis for any legislative or regulatory action." Likewise, the Small Business Administration's independent Office of Advocacy informed FWS that its rule failed to meet legal standards for regulatory impact review on small businesses, which comprise 99% of this threatened industry.

Andrew Wyatt, CEO of USARK said, "I am happy that there will finally be some oversight of a government process that has been allowed to run amok. Policy should be based in good science and what's good for the economy, and should take into account the impact on small businesses as the law requires." Wyatt added, "It is our hope that Administrator Sunstein will recognize the rule in question not only runs contrary to the very principles stated by his office and this Administration, but will likely lead to the destruction of thousands of American family businesses. It should and must be rejected."

SOURCE United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK)

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