SMYRNA, Del – While the challenges facing conservation continue to climb, today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, joined with some of America’s leading conservation groups to celebrate passage of America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act. The ACE Act, co-authored by Senator Carper, reauthorizes critical laws aimed at preserving habitat and conserving species throughout the country. The ACE Act also authorizes new funds to tackle evolving threats to conservation, such as invasive species and wildlife diseases.
“For more than a century, our national approach to conserving land, water and wildlife has centered on collaborative efforts between federal agencies, state partners and stakeholders – from businesses to conservation organizations. America’s Conservation Enhancement Act reflects and reinforces that long legacy of working together to conserve habitats and species,” said EPW Ranking Member Tom Carper. “The ACE Act builds on our country’s proud tradition of conservation. It reauthorizes programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and the Chesapeake Bay Program, which fund critical efforts throughout the Delmarva region. While supporting efforts to protect and preserve vital ecosystems that are home to important species, the ACE Act will also promote innovative ways to address growing threats like invasive species and wildlife diseases. I thank the conservation community for working with me so passionately and persistently to move this legislation through Congress, proving that progress to preserve our planet and protect all of its creatures is not only possible, but also vital.”
“Delaware has the highest Green Wing membership in the country. It should come as no surprise that a state so invested in the next generation of conservationists is represented by a Senator who shares that same investment in the future of conservation,” said Ducks Unlimited Delaware State Chairman Raymond Harp. “Senator Carper’s efforts to pass the ACE Act through both chambers of Congress have been nothing short of fantastic, and waterfowl habitat in Delaware and across the country stand to benefit.”
“At a time when Washington is more divided than ever, the overwhelming bipartisan support of the ACE Act shows how leaders can come together to solve conservation challenges. With one-third of wildlife species facing heightening risk of extinction, this law will bring much needed resources to wetlands, fisheries, and habitats, such as the Chesapeake Bay,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We thank Sen. Carper for his leadership on this bill, and for the measures which will restore and ensure the health of the bay, which is vital not only to the thousands of wildlife species that call it home, but to the economic health of the region.”
Among its provisions, the ACE Act will:
- Reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act until 2025;
- Reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Act until 2025;
- Reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program until 2025;
- Reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails network and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Grants Assistance Program until 2025;
- Authorize the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense Program until 2025;
- Commission a study by the National Academy of Sciences regarding the pathways and mechanisms of the transmission of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the United States;
- Establish a CWD task force to develop an interstate action plan for state and federal cooperation relating to the disease;
- Authorize funds to combat the threat of invasive species; and
- Encourage partnerships among public agencies and other interested parties for promoting fish conservation.
On December 13, 2019, Senator Carper and Senator Barrasso introduced the ACE Act (S. 3051). Later that month, the EPW Committee unanimously approved the ACE Act. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) are cosponsors of the legislation.
On September 17, 2020, the ACE Act passed the Senate in the form of a substitute amendment to S. 3051 that was negotiated with the House of Representatives.
On October 1, 2020, the House passed the ACE Act.