Endangered Species Act

Western states are home to diverse wildlife and plants—from prized fish and soaring hawks to spindly grasses and twisted cacti—that make this an incredible region to live and work in. As citizens who live and work here, men and women in the industry take seriously the obligation to protect all plants and wildlife, especially the vulnerable species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

However, carrying out the intent of the ESA has become overly cumbersome, with more resources spent by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in paperwork and responding to litigation than providing on-the-ground conservation that benefits species and habitats. Environmental groups frequently overload FWS with listing petitions and then sue the federal government for missing deadlines, diverting resources away from species recovery and into litigation and bureaucratic processes.

Federal ESA listings often discourage more effective state, local, private and voluntary efforts to protect species. Rather than imposing one-size-fits-all species listings that obstruct on-the-ground conservation, FWS should support and defer to state protection plans, voluntary conservation agreements, and common-sense management policies. Allowing these efforts to thrive will benefit the species and in many cases may preclude a listing.

With a recovery rate of only about 2%, the ESA is well overdue for modernization. Western Energy Alliance strongly supports new rules that FWS is currently working on, and Congress should pass legislation to update the ESA to improve the consistency, increase transparency, enhance regulatory certainty, and update the scientific standards by which decisions are made. Western Energy Alliance strongly supports the Congressional Western Caucus’s efforts to modernize the Endangered Species Act (ESA) through a package of targeted bills.