House Panel Approves Bills Addressing the ESA
The House Natural Resource Committee approved five bills addressing the Federal Endangered Species Act on October 4, 2017. Each bill was limited in scope and addressed different aspects of the ESA.
H.R. 717 adds the review of economic cost of listing a species as a consideration under the ESA. Under this provision, the FWS or NOAA could decline to list a species due to the likelihood of significant, cumulative economic effects. Currently, federal agencies only take cost into account when designating critical habitat for a listed species. Of the recently proposed bills, this one has the most potential to alter the scope of the ESA.
H.R. 3131 would adjust the hourly rate awarded to lawyers in ESA-related litigation. The cap on hourly fees could discourage some of the litigation currently brought under the ESA. H.R. 2603 would prevent the listing of nonnative species in the U.S., while H.R. 1274 would require that states affected by ESA determinations be provided with all data used in the federal decision making. Finally, H.R. 424 would require the Interior Department to reissue final rules to delist the gray wolf in the western great Lakes and Wyoming.