Tag: endangered species

House Republicans want to ‘repeal and replace’ the ESA

House Republicans want to ‘repeal and replace’ the ESA

The Gunnison sage grouse is a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act (Photo via U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Utah Congressman Rob Bishop is leading a charge to completely repeal the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Since 1973, the ESA has enabled the federal government to recognize species as “threatened” or “endangered,” and to set rules and restrictions on human activity to protect and recover at-risk wildlife, fish, insects and plants. The act is considered a global beacon for preventing extinction, and environmentalists insist that the ESA rarely blocks development.

But Bishop and other Republicans instead see a law that creates expensive and time-consuming regulations for landowners and industries, with few success stories. For years, they have tried to modify and weaken the law. But Bishop has even said the ESA is so dysfunctional that lawmakers may “simply have to start over again,” and “repeal it and replace it.” That might mean giving state wildlife management agencies primary responsibility for species conservation. Protections could vary widely, and since states get their funds from hunting licenses and fees, they might be tempted to prioritize game management over at-risk species.

ESA proponents have so far largely succeeded in fending off the attacks. But with Donald Trump on his way to the White House, a conservative Republican Congress, and a soon-to-be conservative-leaning Supreme Court, environmentalists and legal scholars are taking Bishop’s threat seriously.

“Any Congressional action that would weaken the Endangered Species Act at all would be pretty dramatic,” says Dan Rohlf, a professor at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland. “What Rep. Bishop is talking about would be a major decision in the environmental history of this country.”

“House Republicans want to ‘repeal and replace’ the ESA”

High Country News, December 28, 2016

Species Road to Recovery

Species Road to Recovery

Gunnison sage grouse (via Western State College of Colorado)

Thousands of birds, wildlife, fish and plant species — including the Gunnison sage grouse and dunes sagebrush lizard — will be considered for protection through the Endangered Species Act over the next few years, but energy companies, and developers are hoping to avoid federal restrictions through voluntary plans. I cover the efforts and battles over species recovery for High Country News in its May 28, 2012 issue.

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