Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 113th Congress: New and Recurring Issues [January 13, 2014] [open pdf - 496KB]
"The Endangered Species Act [ESA…] was enacted to increase protection for, and to provide for the recovery of, vanishing wildlife and vegetation. Under 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. Habitat loss is the primary cause for listing species. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. Accordingly, when certain resources are associated with listed species-- such as water in arid regions like California, energy resources in sagebrush country, or free-flowing rivers--ESA is seen as an obstacle to continued or greater human use of these resources. ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are usually harbingers of broader ecosystem decline or conflicts. As a result, ESA is considered a primary driver of large-scale ecosystem restoration issues. […] Major issues for the 113th Congress include how to allocate funds to activities and programs seeking to assist species adaptation to climate change. Other major issues concerning ESA in recent years have included the role of science in decision-making, critical habitat (CH) designation, incentives for property owners, and appropriate protection of listed species, among others."
CRS Report for Congress, R42945
National Agricultural Law Center: http://nationalaglawcenter.org/