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Press Release

Committee Examines Destructive Cost of Endangered Species Act

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Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held an oversight hearing examining the destructive cost of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as it approaches its fiftieth anniversary. Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) released the following statement in response:

“The ESA has been misused and misapplied for the past 50 years to broaden its scope and power. This has had disastrous effects on local economies and businesses throughout the United States. This continues to this day under the Biden administration, which has misused the ESA and has stifled everything from forest management to future energy production through burdensome ESA regulations. It is time for Congress to act and amend the ESA to reign in its power and return the act to its original intent when first passed by Congress. I am excited to begin and help lead this process of reforming the ESA in the Natural Resources Committee with today’s hearing.”


Over the history of the ESA, approximately 1,700 species have been listed but only three percent have ever been considered recovered. The last time Congress significantly amended the ESA was in 1988. 

The Biden administration is implementing the ESA with a “whatever the cost” mentality that is impacting the economic opportunity of rural communities and threatening the property rights of their citizens, while doing little to recover species. Officials should instead be listening to local voices and incentivizing states and private landowners to take conservation measures that benefit species.

Furthermore, the Biden administration has rolled back necessary reforms made by the Trump administration which modernized the ESA. These rollbacks continue to harm species recovery and conservation and impose unjust costs on Americans.

Empowering states, tribes, local governments and private landowners in the ESA decision-making process is the best path forward for both the health of species and the sustainability of local communities that coexist with species.

Today's hearing examined how the ESA is being implemented, its successes and failures in recovering listed species and the cost it imposes on American families. Additionally, on July 18, 2023, Westerman announced the creation of a joint ESA Working Group with the Congressional Western Caucus to examine how the ESA is being implemented by federal agencies, ESA’s practical impacts on the American people, how litigation is driving ESA decision making and how success is defined under the ESA. The work of the subcommittee and the working group will inform legislation in the Natural Resources Committee to modernize and reauthorize the ESA.

To learn more about today’s hearing, click here. To learn more about the ESA Working Group, click here.