WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) applauded the U.S. Department of the Interior’s final rule making regulatory updates to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Barrasso is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW). Last year, Barrasso released draft legislation to modernize the ESA. Barrasso continues to collaborate with stakeholders to improve the draft legislation.

“The Trump administration is taking important steps to make the Endangered Species Act work better for people and wildlife,” said Barrasso. “These final rules are a good start, but the administration is limited by an existing law that needs to be updated. I am working in the Senate to strengthen the law, so it can meet its full conservation potential. Congress needs to work across party lines to find common ground. I will continue to partner with states, stakeholders, and other senators from across the political spectrum on this important issue. We must modernize the Endangered Species Act in a way that empowers states, promotes the recovery of species, and allows local economies to thrive.”

Background Information:

On July 2, 2018, Barrasso released the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018 discussion draft. The draft legislation reauthorizes the ESA for the first time since 1992. It elevates the role of states and increases transparency in the implementation of the ESA. It prioritizes resources to better meet the ESA’s conservation goals, and provides regulatory certainty to promote conservation and recovery activities. The draft legislation – and Barrasso’s collaborative process to produce it – have received broad support from more than one-hundred stakeholders, state and local governments, conservation organizations, and environmental groups. 

Barrasso worked with the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) in drafting the legislation. The bipartisan WGA 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 then-Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming.

On July 17, 2018, the EPW Committee held a legislative hearing on the draft legislation. The hearing featured testimony from Governor Mead. In his written testimony, Mead outlined how the WGA’s approach to species recovery has proven successful. 

In addition to that legislative hearing, the draft legislation has also been informed by:

  • Two EPW Committee oversight hearings and two congressional staff briefings featuring state officials and other stakeholders (including witness testimony from David Freudenthal, former Democratic Governor of Wyoming) to discuss:
    • the need to modernize the ESA,
    • opportunities to give states a more elevated role in species recovery, and
    • bipartisan efforts by the WGA and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to improve the statute;
    • Eight roundtables with approximately one-hundred organizations representing Wyoming and national stakeholders from across the political spectrum to solicit views on the draft legislation; and
    • Over one-hundred staff meetings with stakeholders to discuss the need to modernize the ESA, including with state and local governments and environmental, conservation, sportsmen, energy production, forestry, farming, ranching, and water-related groups.