Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wants to drastically rewrite the Endangered Species Act (ESA), our nation’s most effective law for protecting wildlife in danger of extinction. In newly proposed legislation, he would shift key authority for conserving threatened and endangered species to individual states, which lack the laws, resources and political will needed to protect imperiled wildlife and their habitat. The ESA already allows for flexibility in protecting endangered wildlife, empowering federal, state, local and tribal officials to work together to prevent extinction.
The Barrasso bill would undercut accountability by exempting federal decisions from judicial review when they fail to meet statutory deadlines for listing species. It would delay court challenges for delisting decisions for five years, leaving wrongly-delisted species exposed to hunting, extractive industries, and other significant threats to their existence.
Statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:
“This partisan bill is all about politics, at the expense of sound science and the species that depend on it for survival. It is a reckless power grab designed to wrest away authority from scientists and wildlife experts and give it to states that lack the resources — and sometimes the political will — needed to save wildlife from extinction.
The Endangered Species Act is a law of last resort, a necessary backstop when state actions have failed to prevent species from sliding toward extinction. Sen. Barrasso’s proposed legislation has far more to do with pleasing the Western Governors Association and industries that oppose wildlife conservation than helping endangered species. Dismantling our nation’s most effective tool for saving wildlife for political brownie points will mark our generation as the one that witnessed accelerated wildlife extinctions and did nothing to stop them.
This legislation is at dangerous odds with the purposes and policy of the Endangered Species Act passed 45 years ago by an overwhelming majority in Congress. Sen. Barrasso’s unscientific and unrealistic proposal will undermine this essential check and balance to prevent species extinction and protect our natural resources legacy for the future.”