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 USARK Meets with White House for Oversight RE: Snake Ban

USARK Meets with White House for Oversight RE: Snake Ban

On April 18th, US Association of Reptile Keepers CEO, Andrew Wyatt, accompanied by legal counsel Drew Minkievicz and government relations advisor Joan Galvin from Kelly Drye & Warren, attended a meeting with representatives from the White House Office of Management & Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OIRA is tasked with reviewing agency rule makings to ensure compliance with cost-benefit analysis requirements.

In addition to 3 representatives from OIRA, representatives were also present from US Fish & Wildlife Services (FWS) (altho they noted that they were there to ’listen not speak’), the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy (SBA). There was no representation from US Geological Survey (USGS).

Drew presented the legal case on behalf of USARK, making the case that (a) the agency failed to conduct any economic impact or cost benefit analysis as required by law (b) the rule was too broad and extreme a response to a localized issue ( c) the science remains controversial and FWS has failed to seek out alternative solutions to the perceived problem and (d) the Lacey Act is the wrong vehicle to regulate the domestic reptile trade.

0.0px;">OIRA asked several questions about the timing of the rule, the timing of the Georgetown Economic Services (GES) economic impact study and the recent legislative and regulatory response by Florida with regard to several snake species. The CEQ representative asked about the approximate value of the snakes held by breeders/collectors versus those held as household pets.

Overall, the questioning was cordial and non confrontational. USARK was allowed to present all of our arguments and Andrew Wyatt capitalized on opportunities to drive home many of the points regarding the inadequacy of the USGS science, the lack of due process to date, the apparent bias of the agency and the pre-decisional statements of USFWS representatives during the rule making; as well as the failure of the agency to fulfill its obligation to evaluate economic impact and seek other less onerous solutions to the state problem of potential invasives.

OIRA now has two options:
1. it can either reject the rule and send it back to the agency for further action
2. or it can approve it for publication as a final rule.
In spite of the good reception our arguments received, there is no way to know how -- or when - OIRA will act.

Next steps will include going to the Hill to brief our contacts and ask that they encourage OMB to reject the rule. In addition, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Counsel (PIJAC) is planning to make their case to OIRA in coordination with USARK and we are encouraging the American Zoological Association (AZA) to do the same in the coming weeks.

04/28/11  06:10pm

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