Issue Overview

Signed into law in 1973, the original goal of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was to preserve and recover key domestic species from the brink of extinction. However, today the law is failing to achieve its primary purpose of species recovery and instead has become a tool for litigation that drains resources away from real recovery efforts on the state, tribal and local level and blocks job-creating economic activities. In addition, the Obama Administration is selectively enforcing and administering components of the ESA through closed-door settlements, executive orders and regulations that lack actual transparent data to benefit their policy agenda. Congress last renewed the ESA in 1988, which means it has been 27 years since any substantial updates have been made. 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.

At the beginning of the 114th Congress, the Committee elevated ESA to the Full Committee.

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