WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), released the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018 discussion draft. The discussion draft reauthorizes the ESA for the first time since 1992. The discussion draft emphasizes elevating the role of states and increasing transparency in the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It also prioritizes resources to better meet its conservation goals and provides regulatory certainty to promote conservation and recovery activities.

“When it comes to the Endangered Species Act, the status quo is not good enough,” said Barrasso. “We must do more than just keep listed species on life support - we need to see them recovered. This draft legislation will increase state and local input and improve transparency in the listing process. It will promote the recovery of species and allow local economies to flourish. I have worked closely with the bipartisan Western Governors’ Association to draft a bill that works for endangered species and people alike.”

“I want to thank Governor Mead for his leadership on this important topic. Wyoming continues to be a leader of species protection and conservation. I will work with anyone who is committed to help the Endangered Species Act reach its conservation potential.”

Barrasso has worked with the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) in drafting the legislation. The bipartisan WGA has stated that the chairman’s discussion draft legislation is generally consistent with the WGA recommendations for modernizing the ESA and includes provisions inspired by the association’s Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative, led by Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. In a letter from the WGA, the association wrote of the draft bill:

“The Western Governors’ Association appreciates the Chairman’s willingness to productively engage with Governors, and that the Chairman has approached this polarizing topic in an inclusive, thoughtful manner. The proposed bill reflects this fact and offers meaningful, bipartisan solutions to challenging species conservation issues.”

The discussion draft legislation will:

  • Elevate the role of state conservation agencies in species management;
  • Increase transparency associated with carrying out conservation under the Act;
  • Prioritize available resources for species recovery;
  • Provide regulatory certainty for landowners and other stakeholders to facilitate participation in conservation and recovery activities;
  • Require that listing of any species must also include recovery goals, habitat objectives, and other criteria established by the Secretary of Interior, in consultation with impacted states, for the delisting or downlisting of the species;
  • Require that the satisfaction of such criteria must be based on the best scientific and commercial data available;
  • Enable states the opportunity to lead recovery efforts for listed species, including through a species’ recovery team;
  • Allow such a recovery team to modify a recovery goal, habitat objective, or other established criteria, by unanimous vote with the approval of the secretary of the Interior;
  • Increase federal consultation with local communities;
  • Improve transparency of information regarding the status of a listed species;
  • Create a prioritization system for addressing listing petitions, status reviews, and proposed and final determinations, based on the urgency of a species’ circumstances, conservation efforts, and available data and information so that resources can be utilized in the most effective manner;
  • Include studies on how to improve conservation efforts and to understand in greater depth the extent of resources being expended across the federal government associated with implementation of the act; and
  • Reauthorize the ESA for the first time since its funding authorization expired in 1992.

Read the draft legislation here.

Read a section-by-section of the draft legislation here.

Letters Supportive of The Discussion Draft Bill, The Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018:

Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts

Wyoming County Commissioners Association

Wyoming Department of Agriculture

Wyoming Department of Transportation

Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Wyoming Outfitters & Guides Association

Wyoming State Forestry Division

Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Wyoming Water Development Office

Wyoming Wool Growers Association

Petroleum Association of Wyoming

Aethon Energy Operating LLC

Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona

Agricultural Retailers Association

Alabama Cattlemen's Association

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

American Exploration & Production Council

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Forest Resource Council

American Highway Users Alliance

American Loggers Council

American Road & Transportation Builders Association

American Sheep Industry Association

American Sugarbeet Growers Association

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation

Arizona Cattle Growers' Association

Arizona Cattlemen's Association

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association

Associated General Contractors of America

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Association of Oregon Counties

Associated Builders and Contractors

Associated Oregon Loggers

Black Hills Forest Resource Association

Black Hills Regional Multiple Use Coalition

Buster D. Johnson, Mohave County Supervisor

California Cattlemen's Association

California Farm Bureau Federation

California Wool Growers Association

Campbell County Board of Commissioners

Chaves County Commission

Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

Colorado Farm Bureau

Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition

Colorado Pork Producers Council

Colorado River District

Colorado Snowmobile Association

Colorado Trails Preservation Alliance

Colorado Wool Growers Association

Court Boice, Curry County Commissioner

Deschutes Basin Board of Control

D.L. Wilson, La Paz County Supervisor

Elephant Butte Irrigation District

Family Farm Alliance

Federal Forest Resource Coalition

Florida Cattlemen’s Association

Florida Citrus Mutual

Florida Farm Bureau Federation

Florida Forestry Association

Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association

Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association

Florida Strawberry Association

Friant Water Authority

Garfield County, Colorado Board of County Commissioners

Hardwood Federation

Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Inc.

Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities

Idaho Cattle Association

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

Idaho Recreation Council

Idaho Water Users Association, Inc.

Imperial Irrigation District

Independent Petroleum Association of America

Indiana Beef Cattle Association

Intermountain Forest Association

Iron County Commission

John Koenig, Chairman of the Nye County Board of County Commissioners

Jean Bishop, Mohave County Supervisor, District 4

Kansas Livestock Association

Karen Budd-Falen, Budd-Falen Law Offices, LLC

Klamath County Board of County Commissioners

Klamath County Chamber of Commerce

Klamath Water Users Association

Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce

Land Conservation Assistance Network

Leading Builders of America

Little Snake River Conservation District

Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association

Lowell Baier, Attorney at Law

Mesa County, Colorado Board of County Commissioners

Michigan Bear Hunters Association

Michigan Cattlemen’s Association

Michigan Hunting Dog Federation

Michigan United Conservation Clubs

Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association

Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association

Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce

Missouri Cattlemen's Association

Missouri Sheep Producers

Montana Petroleum Association

Montana Stockgrowers Association

Montana Wood Products Association

Montana Wool Growers Association

National Aquaculture Association

National Asphalt Pavement Association

National Association of Conservation Districts

National Association of Counties

National Association of Home Builders

National Association of Realtors

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

National Association of State Foresters

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Cotton Council

National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition

National Federation of Independent Business

National Grazing Lands Coalition

National Mining Association

National Ready Mixed Concrete Association

National Stone Sand and Gravel Association

National Water Resources Association

National Wild Turkey Federation

Neiman Enterprises, Inc

Nevada Cattlemen’s Association

New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts

New Mexico Cattle Growers Association

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

North Dakota Game and Fish Department

North Dakota Stockmen's Association

Off-Road Business Association, Inc.

Ohio Cattlemen's Association

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

One Voice for Off-Road Motorized Recreation

Orange Cove Irrigation District

Oregon Business & Industry

Oregon Cattlemen's Association

Oregon Dairy Farmers Association

Oregon Farm Bureau Federation

Oregon Seed Council

Oregon Water Resources Congress

Oregonians for Food & Shelter

Partners for Conservation

Portland Cement Association

Public Lands Council

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Safari Club International

San Bernardino County

Senator Eli Bebout, President, State of Wyoming Senate

Sevier County, Utah


Society for Range Management

South Carolina Cattlemen’s Association

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association

South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks

South Dakota Department of Transportation

Southeast Milk Inc.

Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

Southland Royalty Company

Straits Area Sportsmen’s Club

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Texas Cattle Feeders Association

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers

United Water Conservation District

Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen’s Association

Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance

U.P. Whitetails Association of Marquette County

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Utah Cattlemen’s Association

Virginia Cattlemen’s Association

Washington Cattlemen’s Association 

Washington County Commission

Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors

Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Western Council of Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching

Western Energy Alliance

Western Extension Directors Association

Western Governors' Association

Western Land Grant University Deans of Agriculture

Western Landowners Alliance

Westlands Water District

Wisconsin Farm Bureau

Yuma County Water Users' Association

Background Information:

On February 15, 2017, the EPW Committee held an oversight hearing titled “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).” The hearing focused on the need to modernize the ESA in order to improve recovery rates and examining ways to lead to the eventual delisting of recovered species.

On April 26, 2017, congressional staff received a briefing from state officials titled “State Perspectives: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” The briefing highlighted the bipartisan efforts currently underway by the Western Governors’ Association and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies to identify opportunities to modernize the Endangered Species Act.

On May 10, 2017, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held an oversight hearing titled “Conservation, Consultation, and Capacity: State Views on the Need to Modernize the Endangered Species Act.” The purpose of this hearing was to hear from state officials on their roles and capacities in species conservation. The hearing examined state’s views on the need to strengthen and modernize the Endangered Species Act, including its effectiveness in incentivizing conservation, facilitating federal-state consultation, and ensuring adequate capacity. The hearing assessed ways to best help the Endangered Species Act meet its conservation potential.

At both hearings and the staff briefing, the EPW Committee considered the views of wide cross section of state officials, impacted individuals, environmental groups, and other stakeholders from across the country. Their feedback and testimony highlighted opportunities to modernize the ESA so it works better for species and for people, and so it better achieves its full conservation potential.