Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a committee oversight hearing on “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).” The hearing focused on the need to modernize the ESA in order to better improve recovery rates and the eventual delisting of recovered species.

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable David D. Freudenthal, former governor of Wyoming, Gordon S. Myers, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and president of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, James Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of the Defenders of Wildlife, and Daniel M. Ashe, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

For more information on their testimonies click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“The Endangered Species Act was enacted  to conserve species identified as

endangered or threatened with extinction and to conserve ecosystems upon which those species depend.

“Those of us from Wyoming know the important role the Endangered Species Act plays in responsible environmental stewardship.

“Wyoming is one of the most beautiful states in the nation.

“We are home to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, numerous national forests, pristine lakes, scenic waterways.

“Our wildlife is diverse and abundant.

“We have thriving populations of grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and bison, to name a few.

“People travel from around the world to come to Wyoming because our state’s natural resources are spectacular.

“We in Wyoming are not alone in our natural bounty -- or in our resolve to conserve species within our borders.

“Every state in our nation works hard and invests heavily to protect the unique species of that state.

“States throughout the west are collaborating tirelessly with stakeholders to conserve species like the sage grouse throughout the west, the arctic grayling fish in Montana, the el segundo blue butterfly in California, and the Columbian white-tailed deer in the Pacific northwest.

“The Great Lakes region, like the west, grapples with the gray wolf.

“In the southeast, – specifically, in North Carolina – it is the red wolf.

“In the great plains, the lesser prairie chicken.

“In the south and elsewhere, the northern long-eared bat.

“In the northeast and midwest, the rusty patch bumblebee.

“99.4 percent of counties in the United States are home to at least one species listed as endangered.

“That’s according to a recent analysis of Fish and Wildlife Service data done by the National Association of Counties.

“Here’s the problem – the Endangered Species Act is not working today.

“We should all be concerned when the Endangered Species Act fails to work.

“States, counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders are all making it clear that the Endangered Species Act is not working today.

“A major goal of the Endangered Species Act is the recovery of species to the point that protection under the statute is no longer necessary.

“Of 1,652 species of animals and plants in the U.S. listed as either endangered or threatened since the law was passed in 1973, only 47 species have been delisted due to recovery of the species. 

“In other words, the Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that less than 3 percent of species in the United States under the protection of the Endangered Species Act have recovered sufficiently to no longer necessitate the protection of the statute.

“As a doctor, if I admit 100 patients to the hospital and only 3 recover enough under my treatment to be discharged, I would deserve to lose my medical license.

“The Western Governors Association, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and other stakeholder groups have been working to identify challenges with the Endangered Species Act, and opportunities to make the statute work better.

“The bipartisan association of western Governors have taken on this cause because the Endangered Species Act has not been updated in any significant way for almost 30 years.

“Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has played an especially important role by leading the WGA’s Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative.

“Governor Mead has worked with other western states to develop an Endangered Species Act policy for the WGA, including specific recommendations for improvements to species conservation and to the Endangered Species Act.

“The western governors unanimously adopted the Endangered Species Act policy at the WGA meeting last June. 

“This year, the Western Governors Association continues to lead efforts to identify consensus-based solutions to modernize statutes, regulations, and policies, to make the Endangered Species Act work better for wildlife and for people. 

“As our committee explores the need to modernize the Endangered Species Act,

I hope we can emulate the bipartisanship leadership that we had here on this committee and that the WGA has demonstrated in this Act.

“And when I talk about the bipartisanship in this committee, I hope we can replicate last year’s bipartisan success when the entire committee joined together, Republican and Democrat, to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act, achieving the first major environmental reform in that area in roughly 40 years.”