January 30, 2023

Slate of ESA Amendment Bill Proposals to Pass Out of House Committee

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Here’s a list of bills that passed through the House Committee on Natural resources that would, if passed by Congress, amend the Endangered Species Act. Whether any of these amendments are worthy of much of anything, I’ll leave up to you.

I will provide a Summary of the proposal and a link at the end where you can view the entire bill proposal.

HR 3608 – Summary

H.R. 3608 amends the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) to require public availability on the Internet of the best scientific and commercial data available, which is the basis of each decision to list a species for protection under the ESA. It requires the federal government to disclose scientific information used in making listing or critical habitat decisions to States, tribes, and local governments and ensures the inclusion of data submitted by those governments as part of the best available scientific and commercial data.

Further, this bill requires U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to report funds expended by the federal government in response to ESA litigation, full time employees tasked with ESA litigation, and attorneys’ fees associated with ESA litigation and settlements. This annual report will be submitted to the House Natural Resources Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Lastly, to protect taxpayer dollars, this bill caps the attorney fees for ESA litigation and settlements at $125 per hour, consistent with the Equal Access to Justice Act. <<<Read More>>>

HR 6345 – Summary

H.R. 6345, the “EMPOWERS Act,” introduced by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-AZ-02) on July 12, 2018, amends the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to gives States and local governments the ability to provide meaningful feedback and information concerning major ESA decisions that affect their communities. The ESA currently provides opportunities for States to provide input, but imposes no special requirement to consult with States. This bill ameliorates this omission by requiring federal agencies to consult with States before making decisions on ESA petitions and to provide an explanation when their decisions diverge from the findings or advice of States.<<<Read More>>>

HR 6346 – Summary

H.R. 6346, the Weigh Habitats Offsetting Locational Effects, or “the WHOLE Act,” is a bipartisan bill that requires that the totality of conservation measures and planned conservation measures be considered before taking federal actions that impact species. This legislation will reduce costs associated with consultation, allow important projects to move forward while safeguarding listed species, and incentivize private conservation efforts to benefit endangered and threatened species.<<<Read More>>>

HR 6355 – Summary

H.R. 6355, introduced by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04) on July 12, 2018, amends the Endangered Species Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to declare a petition backlog when frivolous petitions overburden the scientific review and evaluation process. It also ensures all necessary protections for legitimate species listing requests, which contain sufficient duly collected scientific information, remain in place. Finally, this legislation would create a public database of listing petitions and accompanying information.<<<Read More>>>