Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 110th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices [Updated January 16, 2007] [open pdf - 148KB]
"Increasing numbers of animal and plant species face possible extinction. Endangered and threatened species -- and the law that protects them, the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA, 16 U.S.C. §§1531, et seq.) -- are controversial, in part, because dwindling species are often harbingers of resource scarcity. The most common cause of species' decline is habitat loss or alteration. Habitat loss occurs due to development, changes in land management practices, competition from invasive species, and other factors, nearly all related to economic, political, or social interests. ESA has been among the most contentious environmental laws, because of its strict substantive provisions, which can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Congress faces the issue of how to balance these interests (which may fall on various sides of any given species controversy) with the protection of endangered and threatened species and, as stated in ESA, 'the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend.' Because of strong support and strong opposition to the ESA, comprehensive endangered species legislation has not been reauthorized since the last ESA authorization expired in 1992. Instead, congressional efforts have focused on addressing some controversial features of ESA. There were several attempts to enact comprehensive legislation that would have reauthorized the ESA in the 109th Congress. These attempts are less likely in the 110th Congress. Congress may shift to considering issues for oversight such as the science used for making decisions and designation of critical habitat. Further, Congress may also address issues related to the implementation and funding of the ESA."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33779
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