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New ESA Modernization Bill Package Introduced in Congress

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

As the media focuses on impeachment, one important news item getting glossed over is the introduction of another Endangered Species Act modernization bill package.

As I’ve reported in the past, the ESA hasn’t lived up to its name and has only been successful in delisting 3% of listed endangered or threatened species. If the law isn’t being modernized and delisting fully recovered species, it’s time to reform it.

Yesterday, the Congressional Western Caucus announced 17 ESA modernization-related bills they’re working on. The goal of this package is to “modernize the Endangered Species Act to better protect species, and to treat property owners, states and local stakeholders as partners rather than obstacles.”

In an op-ed in The Hill, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) detailed why this legislative package is timely and needed:

As chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, I’ve heard from concerned communities around the country who have been impacted by the outdated and often abused ESA. That’s why in September the Western Caucus brought together a wide array of stakeholders to discuss legislative proposals to modernize the ESA for the 21st century. Representatives from industry groups, the administration, small businesses, and more than 20 members of Congress hunkered down for an afternoon of policy talk.

A summary of the bill package is described below:

While well-intentioned, the Endangered Species must be modernized to ensure success where it matters most: on-the-ground and outside the courtroom.With a 3% recovery rate over 46 years, the ESA needs to be updated to better protect species, and to treat property owners, states and local stakeholders as partners rather than obstacles. ESA listings, de-listings, and critical habitat decisions impact our animals, our plants, our economy, our public health, our safety and our property rights. Defined recovery goals must be established to ensure species are removed from the list when desired population levels are met. Strengthening the Act should also include requiring actual science that is standardized, transparent and publicly available in order to make better policy decisions. Another key to improving recovery rates for plants and animals is empowering states and affected stakeholders to be part of the solution. The ESA can be modernized to more successfully assist species that are truly in danger.

Here’s praise for the ESA modernization package from congressional caucus members:

Stay tuned for more developments on ESA modernization.

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