Endangered Species Act
Congress last renewed the ESA in 1988, which means it has been 25 years since any substantial updates have been made – long before the Internet and cell phones were as widespread and available for commercial use as they are today. With new technological capabilities readily available and strong support for conserving endangered species, there are key areas where improvements could be made to make the law more effective for both species and people in the 21st century. After more than four decades, the ESA should be modernized and updated to once again focus the law on true species recovery.
ESA-Related Litigation and DOI’s “Mega-Settlements”:
Excessive litigation has become one of the greatest obstacles to the success of the ESA. Instead of focusing on recovering endangered species, groups are using the ESA to file hundreds of lawsuits against the government. In response, agencies have to spend time and financial resources addressing those lawsuits instead of species recovery.
In 2011, the Obama Administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI) announced it had negotiated settlements, behind closed-doors, with two litigious environmental organizations. While DOI touts the settlements as “an improvement of the ESA,” the settlements raise serious questions about the Obama Administration’s scope of authority and lack of transparency on the ESA. Over the past year, the following facts were uncovered relating to the “mega-settlements”: