Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 109th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices [Updated November 16, 2005] [open pdf - 100KB]
"The 109th Congress is considering various proposals to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA; P.L. 93-205; 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543). Major issues in recent years have included changing the role of science in decision-making, modifying critical habitat (CH) procedures, reducing conflicts with Department of Defense activities, incorporating further protection and incentives for property owners, and increasing protection of listed species, among others. In addition, many have advocated enacting as law some ESA regulations promulgated during the Clinton Administration. The ESA has been one of the more contentious environmental laws. This may stem from its strict substantive provisions, which can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Under the ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as 'endangered' or 'threatened' according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. The ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are usually harbingers of broader ecosystem decline: the most common cause of listing species is habitat loss."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB10144
U.S. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers: http://fpc.state.gov/