Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 113th Congress: New and Recurring Issues [February 1, 2013] [open pdf - 527KB]
"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, P.L. 93-205, as amended; 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543)--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, climate change, 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 its substantive provisions can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Congress faces the issue of how to balance these interests 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, ESA has not been reauthorized since the last authorization expired in 1992. In the 109th Congress, there were several unsuccessful attempts to enact comprehensive legislation that would have reauthorized ESA. Congressional efforts in the 110th, 111th, and 112th Congresses focused on addressing specific controversial features of ESA and on oversight of concerns such as the science used for making decisions and designating critical habitat, but little legislation related to ESA was enacted."
CRS Report for Congress, R42945
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