RL33779 - The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the110th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices
12-Jan-2009; Eugene H. Buck and M. Lynne Corn, Pervaze A. Sheikh, Robert Meltz and Kristina Alexander; 26 p.
Update: Previous Releases:
October 8, 2008
June 3, 2007 November 1, 2007
October 10, 2007
July 27, 2007: (www.ncseonline.org/nle/crsreports/07Jul/RL33779.pdf)
June 2, 2007
April 9, 2007
May 2, 2007
Abstract: The 110th Congress took limited action to oversee implementation and funding of the Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1543) and to consider proposals to amend the act. Major issues in recent years have included the role of science in decision-making, consultation requirements for federal agencies, critical habitat (CH) designation and procedures, protection by and incentives for property owners, and appropriate protection of listed species, among others. In addition, many have advocated enacting as law some ESA regulations promulgated during the Clinton Administration.
ESA has been one of the more contentious environmental laws. This may stem from its strict substantive provisions, which can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Under ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are usually harbingers of broader ecosystem decline. ESA is considered a primary driver of large-scale ecosystem restoration issues. The most common cause of species listing is habitat loss.
The authorization for spending under ESA expired on October 1, 1992. The prohibitions and requirements of ESA remain in force, even in the absence of an authorization, and funds have been appropriated to implement the administrative provisions of ESA in each subsequent fiscal year. In the 109th Congress, several proposals would have reauthorized and extensively amended ESA, but none were enacted. No legislative proposals have been introduced in the 110th Congress to reauthorize the ESA.
In the 110th Congress, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246, included a provision amending the Internal Revenue Code to permit the deduction of expenditures for endangered species recovery. On species of international concern, the 110th Congress enacted P.L. 110-132, reauthorizing the African Elephant Conservation Act and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act of 1994 through FY2012, and P.L. 110-133, reauthorizing the Asian Elephant Conservation Act through FY2012. A number of bills introduced in both the House and Senate to address global climate change include provisions that allocate funds to the FWS endangered species program and to related funds to assist species adaptation to climate change. Action is doubtful on a host of other bills introduced in the 110th Congress.
This report identifies and discusses oversight issues and legislation introduced in the 110th Congress to address specific concerns related to how ESA is implemented and how endangered species are managed.