Lummis Introduces Bill to Bring Accountability to the Endangered Species Act

December 7, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) along with Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced the State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act. This legislation amends the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 to require federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to provide states, counties, and tribes with the scientific reasoning behind Endangered Species Act determinations.

The bill also requires federal agencies to use up-to-date research when making decisions about wildlife protected under the Endangered Species Act, including information that states, tribes, and other stakeholders provide them.

There is clear evidence in Wyoming that the ESA needs to be updated. The Greater Yellowstone Grizzly Bear resides predominately in and around Yellowstone National Park in Northwestern Wyoming. This year alone, there have been reports of grizzly bear sightings as far South as southern Lincoln County near the Utah border. The towns of Jackson and Cody are seeing more and more grizzlies wander into their town lines. By the end of October, 42 grizzlies had been killed after being hit by cars, killed in self-defense, or euthanized by wildlife scientists due to aggressive interactions with humans. That’s up from 31 by the same time in 2020.

The late Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) previously sponsored this bill.

“This legislation makes sure that local, tribal, and state communities have a seat at the table when actions under the ESA are being considered,” Senator Lummis said. “Congress has heard from local governments, particularly from western states containing a significant portion of federal land, that ESA-implementing agencies often ignore locally-generated science and data provided to them for listing determinations. States and tribes often have actual data that federal agencies may lack. The law already requires agencies to cooperate with the states ‘to the maximum extent practicable,’ yet this is not being done. This legislation will fix that.”

“State and local experts are in the best position to collect and report the most accurate data on wildlife in their state. It only makes sense that the federal government would prioritize this information when making listing decisions,” said Senator Barrasso. “Species that go on the endangered species list seem to stay there forever. Our legislation increases transparency in the listing process and makes sure state and local experts are involved in all conservation efforts.”

“The Endangered Species Act is well-intentioned but grossly flawed. More often than not, the law creates so much bureaucratic red tape that it comes at the expense of the very species it seeks to protect,” Senator Risch said. “This legislation will make strides to ensure greater transparency, accountability, and local involvement in species listing and recovery.”

“I have been a longtime advocate of species recovery, restoration and conservation, but the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is an out-of-control regulatory measure in desperate need of reform. Our legislation takes important steps toward bringing transparency and improving collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness among agencies using the ESA. Our reforms will be critical to improving the ESA’s overall effectiveness, and ensure state, local, and tribal leaders have a seat at the table in the management of endangered species,” said Senator Crapo.

To read the full bill text, click here.