1993 Scorecard Vote
The National Biological Survey, as a new agency within the Department of Interior, is intended to improve our scientific understanding of the nation's living resources. Its only role is scientific, and it would not regulate industry.
The survey will gather information on the health, distribution, and abundance of the nation's plants and animals, and spotlight any trends that bear watching. It has been called an "early warning system," meant to allow the government to respond to chronic declines before a species or its habitat reaches a critically low level and a crisis develops. Opponents of the survey, led by Rep. Billy Tauzin (D-LA), sought to offer an amendment to weaken environmental laws. It would have required that if any government action resulted from the information gathered, and would trigger payoffs to property owners for a government "taking" of their land's potential value. "Takings" legislation threatens to severely limit enforcement of health, safety, and environmental laws, pass on huge costs to taxpayers, and create a large enforcement bureaucracy. The House Rules Committee ruled Tauzin's proposed amendment "non-germane;" Rep. Tauzin then opposed passage of the limiting rule.
The vote is on the rule to provide for House floor consideration of the bill to establish the National Biological Survey (H.R. 1845). The rule was adopted 238-188 on October 6, 1993. YES is the pro-environmental vote.
While the intent of the National Biological Survey is to prevent conflicts over natural resources, this legislation was attacked by anti-environmental members as an invasion of private property rights. They next attacked the provision of the bill that allowed unpaid volunteers to help catalog plant and animal populations.
Rep. Tauzin argued on the House floor that opening the process to volunteer researchers would tempt environmental groups, garden clubs, and others to provide skewed information about threatened plant life and animals. Tauzin offered an amendment striking the survey's authority to use volunteers. His supporters went so far as to claim the bill would create an "eco-gestapo." The House voted 217-212 to adopt the amendment on October 6, 1993. NO is the pro-environmental vote.