On March 26, 2015, House of Representatives Republican Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced a bill (H.R. 1667) to amend Section 4(b) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to require the Secretary of Interior to “make publicly available on the Internet the best scientific and commercial data available that are the basis for reach regulation, including each proposed regulation” for listing decisions regarding endangered or threatened status for wildlife and plant species. H.R. 1667 does not require the Secretary of the Interior to post information that is prohibited from disclosure under state law for the protection of personal information.
H.R. 1667 is identical to Senate Bill 292, introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) earlier this year. Although H.R. 1667 has been criticized by some as aimed at hindering the federal resource agencies from implementing the ESA, the proposed amendment would increase transparency in agency rulemaking. Existing law does not require studies and other data that are the basis for proposed listing decisions to be made publicly available when a regulation is proposed. The resource agencies are also not required to post a reference list together with the proposed regulation in the Federal Register, or to provide complete citations to studies referenced in proposed regulations. As a result, interested parties are frequently unable to obtain key documentation until after the opportunity to comment on a proposed regulation has already passed. H.R. 1667 would help the public gain timely access to this information.