In Case You Missed It: Bipartisan Western Caucus Endangered Species Act Modernization Package

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Washington, August 2, 2018 | comments
Recently, the Western Caucus unveiled a bipartisan package aimed at modernizing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) at a legislative forum and press conference. This impressive slate of nine bills has received endorsements from more than 115 organizations.
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In Case You Missed It: Bipartisan Western Caucus Endangered Species Act Modernization Package


Recently, the Western Caucus unveiled a bipartisan package aimed at modernizing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) at a legislative forum and press conference. This impressive slate of nine bills has received endorsements from more than 115 organizations.

For bill text, descriptions of individual bills and provisions, videos, pictures, full endorsements list and much more, click HERE to see the dedicated Western Caucus ESA Modernization page.



  • Click HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for important coverage of this unprecedented legislative rollout.
  • Click HERE to watch the full video of the Legislative Forum that day featuring 16 Members of Congress and 12 stakeholder witnesses.
  • Click HERE to watch the live-stream of the Press Conference following the Legislative Forum and bill introductions.





House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) stated, “We’re all aware that the Endangered Species Act hasn’t undergone any significant updates in over 40 years. Neither endangered species, nor the American people, are benefited by this lack of modernization. It’s past time for reform. The law needs to be updated to ensure it maintains its original intent and focus of species recovery and not simply serve as a tool for endless litigation. The Committee has worked for many years to put the ESA back on the right track. Now is the time to modernize this antiquated law to simultaneously benefit both endangered species and the American people.”

Executive Vice Chairman Scott Tipton (CO-03) stated, “The most effective approach to species recovery and conservation is through proactive localized efforts that take into account the unique landscape, habitat and ecological conditions of an area. When empowering those who have their boots on the ground every day to lead these critical conservation and recovery efforts, we can best assure the health and success of the species. The LOCAL Act would engage non-federal landowners, incentivize voluntary conservation efforts, and assist local communities in drafting and implementing conservation plans for threatened and endangered species. I urge my colleagues who want to be proactive about conservation and species recovery, rather than reactive, to support this bill and the Endangered Species Act modernization package as a whole.”

Chief Infrastructure and Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04) said, “It is long past time that we reform the Endangered Species Act. In the more than 40 years since its introduction and passage, much has changed in our nation and its environment, but the law has not kept up with the evolving realities of the 21st Century. The PETITION Act would give the Interior Secretary the tools necessary to prevent frivolous lawsuits from stopping the work of the Fish and Wildlife Service, while ensuring more resources are available to protect truly endangered species. I thank my colleagues from the Congressional Western Caucus for their leadership on this issue and I look forward to our collective efforts to modernize an important piece of American law.”



National Rural Electric Cooperative Association: “NRECA strongly supports efforts by the Congressional Western Caucus to improve the Endangered Species Act through a series of targeted updates to the statute and its implementation. The Caucus’ package of bills will continue to protect threatened and endangered species, while providing flexibility and greater regulatory certainty and encouraging voluntary conservation efforts as a cost-effective means of achieving Endangered Species Act goals. These improvements will bring greater efficiencies and help reduce electric cooperatives’ costs of building and maintaining critical infrastructure that serves one in eight Americans.”

National Association of Home Builders: “These bills would make needed improvements to the ESA that would benefit species, landowners and the federal agencies charged with enforcing the law. We are pleased that these bills make positive changes to the listing and delisting process, address the backlog of species petitions, encourage consultation with the states and codify voluntary conservation programs. It would also create programs that would provide more flexibility and reduces costs for landowners. These modifications are a great first step towards improving the functionality of the ESA because it provides clarity and certainty for the regulated community while continuing to protect our nation’s most vulnerable species.”

National Association of Conservation Districts: “The Endangered Species Act (ESA) must be modernized, and voluntary conservation plays an important role in achieving this. The ESA legislative package the Congressional Western Caucus has announced emphasizes the needs of communities impacted by listings and focuses on scientific consensus rather than a politically-driven agenda. NACD supports this package requiring the federal government to work with all public and private partners, including conservation districts and tribal governments, involved in managing the critical habitat for listed species.”



Western Energy Alliance: “Congress can also improve implementation of the ESA by allowing FWS to utilize its limited resources in the most efficient manner possible. Currently, resources are tied up responding to bulk petitions submitted by activist organizations with the specific goal of suing FWS when it unsurprisingly fails to meet the rigid deadlines of the law. The PETITION and LIST Acts would allow the Service to prioritize and respond to the backlog of petitions without the constant threat of legal action, thereby ensuring reviews are conducted in a thorough and accurate manner while enabling resources to be transferred from legal defense to species recovery. Finally, the designation of critical habitat can be and has been used as a tool to limit economic development rather than primarily focused on species protection. The WHOLE Act would reorient critical habitat designations to the original intent of the Act by allowing for mitigation offsets of critical habitat disturbance in non-critical areas, which would ensure.”

American for Limited Government: “The United States has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources including energy to power the U.S. economy and farmland feed the people. The Endangered Species Act should not be used to bludgeon communities into submission. Americans for Limited Government want to thank the Western Caucus for taking this bold action to rein in an out of control federal government and return power to the local people on the ground. It is important for all Members of Congress to support the legislative package.”

American Petroleum Institute:
“The bills being brought forward by the Western Caucus can make an important contribution to effective and balanced improvements to the ESA for the benefit of species populations and management of wildlife resources. The oil and natural gas industry is committed to the conservation of species, which can be done in concert with the production of U.S. oil and natural gas. It is also clear that producing the energy that we rely upon to fuel our economy has been a proven tool for job creation, economic stimulation, federal revenues and national security. We applaud the Western Caucus shining a light on this important issue in the West and all across the United States. We look forward to working with you and members of the Caucus to forward the legislation the Caucus is promoting moving forward.”



Chief Regulatory Reform OfficerAndy Biggs (AZ-05) stated, “I thank Chairman Gosar and Chairman Bishop for their leadership on the Endangered Species Act modernization package. This action is long overdue, and will help millions of Americans around the country by protecting local interests – not special interests.As a part of this package, I introduced the LIST Act, which makes a number of improvements to bring the ESA up-to-date. Most notably, the LIST Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to de-list species when he receives an objective, measurable, and scientific study demonstrating a species has recovered. This will allow us to focus resources to protect species that actually need it. I support all of the bills introduced today, and I look forward to their movement through Congress.”

Chairman EmeritusSteve Pearce (NM-02) stated, “This bill would simply require the federal government to consult with states before making a listing decision under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recent listings under the ESA have lacked adequate consultation and communication with the states who have these animals. Lack of communication is a lost opportunity for the Fish and Wildlife Service to utilize state expertise and information on species under review. Decisions to list species under the ESA often have serious adverse economic consequences, which is why the federal government should review all relevant information before making a decision. The EMPOWERS Act will help prevent rushed decisions that hurt local economies. Improvements must be made to the substance of listing decisions, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this commonsense bill forward.”

Vice-Chairman for Indian Affairs and Oceans Don Young (AK-At Large) said,“The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been weaponized and misused by environmental groups for too long. I am pleased to be part of the Western Caucus’ efforts to reign in the ESA, and to sponsor the Localizing Authority of Management Plans (LAMP) Act. This legislation, along with other bills introduced today by my colleagues, will work to truly modernize the ESA and return the focus of the law to its original intent of species conservation and recovery.”


Congressman Mike Johnson (LA-04)
said, “The ESA has been exploited for decades placing unnecessary burdens on our nation’shard-workingfarmers and ranchers. And while protecting wildlife and their habitats is of the utmost importance, the agriculture community is already proactively and heavily involved in conservation programs that implement critical protections for both. My bill helps modernize the ESA so we can continue to protect endangered species and let our farmers and ranchers get back to what they do best - providing a safe, sustainable food source for the American people.”

Congressman Ralph Norman (SC-05) said,“I am happy to join my colleagues of the Western Caucus in support of the Endangered Species Act Modernization Package of Legislation, which makes necessary and common-sense updates to the Endangered Species Act. These bills continue to ensure protects for endangered species and successful species conservation, while increasing transparency, bringing accountability to the decision making process, and including States and local governments in the efforts to protect species. Importantly I am proud to have introduced the PREDICTS Act, which codifies the 'No Surprises' regulation and provides for greater certainty and improved planning for incidental take permit holders and landowners entering into agreements to improve the status and recovery of at-risk and listed species.”

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (OR-02)stated, “We’ve seen time and again the impact of Endangered Species Act listings on communities across rural Oregon. Too often, the ESA decision making process has ignored local input and science on the ground. It’s past time to bring greater transparency to this process, and recognize and reward the contributions our farmers, ranchers, and other private land owners make towards improving habitat. By making common-sense changes to modernize the ESA, we can protect the livelihoods of Oregonians and people across the rural West, while still achieving the goal I share with all Americans of recovering endangered species. These bills are an important step towards achieving those results.”


As always, you can follow everything the Western Caucus is working on through our Website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.



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