The Endangered Species Act never seems to catch a break, and this summer looks to be no exception. Senator Barrasso of Wyoming has just introduced a bill to radically change the way species recovery is managed under the Act, shifting the balance of power towards state appointees and away from federal experts. Although he’s calling it the “Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018”, it does nothing to improve existing law. There will be a hearing on the bill July 17th, and we want to start putting the pressure on Senators now.
Friends of Blackwater signed on to an open letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which states:
The draft legislation would dramatically weaken this effective and popular wildlife conservation law. The bill would: • Undermine the ESA’s reliance on science, especially in recovering species; • Give states the ability to veto endangered species restoration projects; • Make it harder to protect imperiled species by requiring recovery goals at the same time as listing; • Undermine citizen court access and reduce public involvement and agency accountability; and • Slow agency conservation actions by requiring cumbersome and unnecessary new procedures
This damaging bill seeks to impose state control over the most important processes to list, protect, and recover imperiled species under the ESA — even though states already have broad opportunities to engage in the ESA process. Moreover, states lack the legal authority, resources and political resolve to implement the ESA. A 2017 study by the U.C. Irvine School of Law found that: -Only 4% of states have authority to promote the recovery of imperiled species; -Only 5% of spending on imperiled species is by the states; and -Only 10% of states have significant habitat safeguards.