programs Endangered Species and the Economy

Interagency Task Force on Economic Growth and Endangered Species

Background

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a powerful and far-reaching law that affects everything from windfarms to our groundwater supply.

To minimize its impact to the Texas economy, the Interagency Task Force on Economic Growth and Endangered Species helps local governments and communities find cost-effective solutions for complying with the complex law and ensuring the best science is used in deciding to list or delist species. The Comptroller leads the task force.

The task force’s mission includes:

  • assessing the economic impact of endangered species management;
  • assisting landowners and other stakeholders in identifying and developing cost-effective strategies for complying with the ESA; and
  • facilitating state and local government efforts to implement the ESA effectively.

The Comptroller has the authority to develop or coordinate a habitat conservation plan or candidate conservation plan and to apply and hold federal permits for programs to protect species that are candidates for listing.

Protecting species on the brink of extinction can be confusing and expensive, because each one has its own specific biological needs that are often not fully understood. The number of species determined to need protection is growing, and the government agencies that decide if a species should be listed face a seemingly endless backlog.

The task force can help communities and industries prepare for a possible listing - or prevent one from happening - by taking conservation actions early and developing science to inform listing decisions.

Task Force Members

Glenn Hegar, Comptroller and presiding officer of task force
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Jason Fearneyhough, Deputy Commissioner 
Texas Department of Agriculture

Carter Smith, Executive Director
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Mel Davis, Special Project Coordinator
Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board

Carlos Swonke, Environmental Affairs Director
Texas Department of Transportation

These member agencies share information on ESA issues; work with institutions of higher education, agriculture and conservation groups; assess the economic impact of proposed listings; develop strategies for protecting endangered species while encouraging economic growth; and provide recommendations and reports on endangered species concerns across the state.

Task Force Working Groups

The task force creates informal working groups to gather information from experts and input from stakeholders about species and the impact listings decisions may have. These meetings are all open to the public and are posted on the recent task force meetings page.

Task Force Advisory Committees

The task force may be assisted in its work by formal advisory committees. These groups help find solutions to specific issues and report back to the task force with recommendations. These meetings are open to the public and are posted on the recent task force meetings page.