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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Estimates on the Economic Impact of New Endangered Species Highly Underestimated

David McNew, Getty Images

State consultants are arguing that the Federal Estimate of the economic loss from listing three new salamanders as endangered is highly under-estimated.

In a continuing trend for the federal government under the current administration, federal estimates highly underrepresent the actual cost of programs and policies.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials estimated that the new endangered listings would cost the state $29 million over the next 23 years.

Williamson County Conservation Foundation consultants said on Tuesday that the actual cost will be much higher at about a half a billion dollars.

That is more than seventeen times the federal estimate.

The discrepancy stems from disagreements in how fast the Austin-area will grow, and how much potential tax revenue will be lost.

It is not currently clear if any private sector losses were considered in either estimate.

The federal decision on listing the Austin blind salamander, the Jollyville Plateau salamander, the Georgetown salamander and the Salado salamander as endangered is expected during the summer.

If the reptiles are listed as endangered, areas of habitat in Williamson, Travis and Bell counties will essentially be seized by the federal government with no compensation for the losses current landholders would incur.

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