Law & Order

Senate Explores Endangered Species Act Reform

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is considering several bills to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 40-year-old law has produced few tangible results beyond road and trail closures, restrictive land-use designations and lawsuits. Millions of acres of land have been set aside to protect threatened and endangered animals and plants, but more money has been spent on lawyers and court expenses than wildlife management. 

The Senate Committee held a hearing on SEMA-supported bills to address some of these deficiencies. They included legislation that would require the U.S. Department of Interior to consider the economic impact of critical habitat designations, publish scientific and commercial data that is the basis for ESA designations, and consider data provided by state, local and tribal governments. The Committee also considered a SEMA-supported bill to prohibit for six years the Interior Department from deciding whether to include the greater sage grouse on the ESA. The bird’s habitat spans 165 million acres across 11 western states and a listing could lead to many road/trail closures. 

For more information, contact Eric Snyder at