House Passes Bill to Modernize Endangered Species Act
August 1, 2014

This week, the House passed H.R. 4315, the Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act, by a vote of 233 to 190. The American Sheep Industry Association signed on to a letter circulated by the Public Lands Council (PLC) strongly supporting the legislation, which combines four bills previously marked up by the House Natural Resources Committee, and will be beneficial to updating and improving the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.

"The ESA, while designed to protect species from endangerment of extinction, has proven to be ineffective and immensely damaging to our members' ability to stay in business," said Brice Lee, PLC president and Colorado rancher. "During the nearly 40 years since the ESA was passed and over 25 years since Congress last reauthorized the law, our industry has come to recognize the act as greatly flawed and outdated. Less than two percent of species placed on the endangered species list have ever been deemed recovered."

H.R. 4315 will require data used by federal agencies for ESA listing and proposed listing decisions to be made publicly available and accessible. The bill also requires the Interior Secretary to report and comprehensively track all litigation costs associated with the act. Furthermore, the bill caps hourly fees paid to attorneys that prevail in cases filed under ESA, consistent with current law.

Finally, the federal government will be required to disclose to affected states all data used in the ESA decision making process. It also ensures that "best available scientific and commercial data" used by the federal government will include data provided by affected states, tribes and local governments.