Battle lines are being drawn in connection with ongoing efforts by lawmakers to reform the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). In a letter addressed to the leaders of both houses of Congress, the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee and the House Committee on Natural Resources, more than 400 groups requested lawmakers to oppose any bill, rider, or other policy proposal that weakens protections for endangered species and habitat. The letter’s signatories include non-governmental organizations based throughout the United States, as well as national non-profits Natural Resources Defense Council, the Humane Society, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The letter calls for continued funding for, and comprehensive implementation of, the ESA.
The letter follows on the heels of the Western Governor’s Association’s bipartisan recommendations for amending the ESA, which include statutory amendments authorizing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Services to, in certain circumstances, prioritize and defer action on listing petitions and amendments. These proposed amendments are intended to encourage state-led conservation efforts.