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ENDANGERED SPECIES RULING COULD DRIVE UP HOME COSTS, BUILDERS SAY

 WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A legal settlement reached this week between the Bush administration and several environmental groups increasing the number of plant and wildlife species listed as endangered could further drive up the cost of lumber and land used in home building, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). It is also likely that the action will force an early debate in the 103rd Congress over reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act.
 The decision will require the government to list 400 more species of plant and animal life in the next four years, which could cost landowners and builders the use of thousands of acres of land.
 "You have to look beneath the surface of this ruling to see what it really means. It requires that more species be listed, which will have the effect of stopping all development on land where an endangered species is found while habitat conservation plans, typically a multi-year process, are prepared," said NAHB President Robert "Jay" Buchert.
 Consequently, builders can wait for years while the details of a recovery plan and critical habitat designation are worked out and finally approved. While this process is underway all development is halted and landowners and builders are left with enormous legal costs and deprived of an economic use of their land. "What is needed, and is essential both for recovery of the species and continued economic use of the land, is the filing of a recovery plan and designation of critical habitat at the same time a species is listed," said Buchert.
 NAHB will watch closely to see where the new species are located, he said. "We are very concerned. This could affect both the ability of builders to build and the cost of building materials. Early reports say that many of the newly listed species will be found in the Pacific Northwest and that could definitely affect lumber prices, which are already rising." Recent figures show that since Oct. 23, prices of framing lumber and plywood have risen by 21 percent. Lumber and wood products account for 7 percent of the price of a new home.
 "The bottom line is that we need to address these problems through a well thought out and carefully considered reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act that makes economic as well as environmental sense," Buchert said.
 The NAHB supports a bill to reauthorize the Endangered Species Act that will be introduced by Rep. Billy Tauzin (D-La.) when Congress reconvenes. The Tauzin bill calls for consideration of economic impact in the recovery plan process, greater public input, stricter scientific requirements for listing, and compensation to property owners whose land is locked up by the Endangered Species Act.
 -0- 12/18/92
 /CONTACT: Cynthia Dodd Adcock of the National Association of Home Builders, 202-822-0450/


CO: National Association of Home Builders ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: EXE

KD -- DC017 -- 8183 12/18/92 11:47 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 18, 1992
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