Will the bill's authors please stand?

  A memo to Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., shows lobbyists wrote most of a bill scaling back the Endangered Species Act. The Feb. 28 memo from Gorton aide Julie Kays says in part: "The coalitions delivered your ESA (Endangered Species Act) bill to me on Friday" I know you are anxious to get the bill introduced. However, it is important that we have a better than adequate understanding of the bill prior to introduction." Gorton says although he asked ranchers, farmers and timber workers for advice, the endangered species reform coalitions did not write the bill. But Michael Bean of the Environmental Defense Fund says the groups are composed mostly of powerhouse members such as Boise Cascade, Chevron and Kaiser Aluminum, not residents of timber towns. "Quite clearly the bill was written by the coalitions and their business members for the senator," Bean told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, a congressional watchdog group, says it's not unusual for lobbyists to draft bills, although Republicans promised they'd steer away from special interests. Bean won't say how he got a copy of the memo, but Gorton aides acknowledged that it was authentic - and confidential. Gorton says the goal of the bill, scheduled for introduction this spring, is to bring "human values and human considerations' into decisions regarding the protection of endangered species.


*Elizabeth Manning