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 hearing titled “Modernizing the Endangered Species Act: Legislative Hearing on S. 4589, Endangered Species Act Amendments Act of 2020.”

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Mark Gordon, governor of Wyoming; Aliese “Liesa” Priddy, owner and operator of JB Ranch; and the Honorable Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Today, we will consider S. 4589, the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020. 

“I introduced this legislation to modernize and strengthen the Endangered Species Act. 

“It is the culmination of a collaboration with stakeholders from across the political spectrum that began four years ago. 

“During my time as chairman, we have held five different hearings on how the Endangered Species Act needs to be reformed so it works better for wildlife and for people. 

“It is clear, legislation is needed to accomplish this goal. 

“It was my intention to introduce a bill with the support of environmental and wildlife conservation organizations, and a bipartisan group of senators. 

“Our stakeholder feedback process made clear that at least one provision in my bill is a ‘non-starter’ for those groups, and for the committee’s minority. 

“It also made clear that the same provision is the top priority for my home state of Wyoming.  

“The Endangered Species Act requires the secretary of the Interior to monitor a species for at least five years after the species is fully recovered and delisted. 

“My legislation would delay the ability of a federal court to overturn a delisting rule during this five-year monitoring period. 

“It does not eliminate anyone’s right to challenge a delisting rule in federal court. 

“It only delays such a lawsuit so states have an opportunity to prove that they can successfully manage the recovered species. 

“Under my legislation a recovered species is still protected during that five-year post-delisting monitoring period. 

“They are still protected by state regulations and a state management plan, and by the secretary’s authority to re-list the species if its condition deteriorates. 

“These changes to the Endangered Species Act are critical for Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and other states. 

“This point was highlighted at a hearing this committee held earlier this month. 

“The grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is fully recovered. 

“That’s not just me saying it. 

“President Bush, President Obama, and President Trump agree. 

“Each of those administrations have tried to delist the species. 

“Yet activist federal judges have repeatedly intervened to overturn these delisting rules. 

“The decades-long commitment of time and resources by states and stakeholders simply cannot continue if the good work to recover the grizzly bear is ignored by activist courts. 

“I understand that this provision ensures some stakeholders won’t support my bill. 

“However, it is an issue that needs to be addressed if we are to improve the Endangered Species Act.

“Many other concepts and provisions in the bill have received positive feedback and support from environmental and wildlife conservation groups. 

“They include – reauthorizing the Endangered Species Act for the first time in almost 30 years; substantially increasing the funding authorization and focusing money on recovery of species; elevating the role of states in implementing the Act; ensuring non-governmental stakeholders have a clearer voice in recovery and in implementing planning; providing regulatory certainty to incentivize investment in conservation and recovery activities; and prioritizing resources for species most in need. 

“Stakeholders have also sought a significant additional funding stream for wildlife conservation. 

“I continue to be open to exploring this possibility. 

“The funding levels must be reasonable, justified and paid for. 

“They must also be part of a bill that modernizes the Endangered Species Act.

“Since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law, fewer than three percent of listed species have been recovered and delisted. 

“This is failure, not success. 

“We must do more than just list species and leave them on life support. 

“We need to see them recovered and delisted. 

“The Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020 will go a long way to achieving this goal. 

“I want to thank all of the stakeholders who have participated in bringing the legislation to this point, including those stakeholders who currently cannot support the bill. 

“I hope to continue to work to find a viable pathway for this legislation as we move into the 117th Congress.”