Washington, DC

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works today at 10:00 a.m. The scheduled hearing will examine S. 4589 in a full committee hearing entitled “Modernizing the Endangered Species Act: Legislative Hearing on S. 4589, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Amendments of 2020.” Introduced by U.S. Senator and Committee Chairman, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), this harmful legislation would weaken the ESA and undermine the conservation of threatened and endangered species.  

The hearing can be viewed live at:  https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=D5185E02-178C-42B6-81DD-B3D16A765E78

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement in advance of the hearing: 

“A recent global assessment on the status of biodiversity found that as many as one million species are facing extinction. We are losing species faster than ever before in human history, and this devastating loss is even further exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. 

“At this critical moment for the biological health of our planet, the nation must renew its commitment to conserving imperiled species and their habitats, not undercut the laws that protect them. The United States can and should lead the way by establishing a national strategy focused on stemming the loss of biodiversity, which includes fully funding the Endangered Species Act.

“The ESA is our nation’s flagship law for conserving and recovering imperiled species. Since its enactment more than 45 years ago, it has been remarkably effective at protecting our nation’s biodiversity: Almost every listed species is still with us today and hundreds are on the path of recovery because of the protections provided by the ESA.

“The bill before the Committee today does not strengthen the ability of the ESA to conserve imperiled species. Instead, it significantly rewrites key portions of the ESA to prioritize politics over science. The legislation being considered today would weaken the ESA and make it harder to achieve the progress we must make to confront the disturbing rate of extinction our planet is facing and address the devastating loss of nature we know is real.”


•    On September 15, 2020, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity released a sobering report announcing that the international community is not doing enough to adequately safeguard and restore biodiversity.
•    In a move that ignores science, this partisan bill would lengthen the current listing process, make it easier to delist species and impose arbitrary procedural requirements.
•    Under existing ESA regulations, states have broad opportunities to engage and participate in recovery planning, implementation and provide recommendations on proposals to list species. However, if enacted, the Barrasso bill would inappropriately shift responsibility for implementing the Endangered Species Act to the states. 
•    A quarter of ESA-listed species are known to occur in two or more states and the challenges of coordinating recovery under different states’ laws, federal leadership of recovery planning and implementation is particularly important.  
•    The bill would reduce transparency and accountability for implementing the ESA by shielding government actions from judicial review and allowing the government to make important changes to conservation work without public review and comment.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

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Katie Arberg
Katherine Arberg
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