WASHINGTON, D.C – Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) released the following statement after the Biden administration announced a series of rules that will expand the scope of the Endangered Species Act. Lummis believes regulations regarding species should focus on restoring state management and earning private landowner support for conservation efforts instead of keeping species on the endangered species list indefinitely, which will do serious harm to the west.
“The Endangered Species Act needs reform, but this announcement by the Biden administration is a step in the wrong direction. It is already difficult to remove a species from the endangered species list, and this new policy will make it nearly impossible. In my home state of Wyoming, the science is clear that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear has recovered and does not need to be listed as endangered any longer. The people who live and work near the species know better than the federal government, and these regulations will actually hurt the species they are trying to protect. We should be working to recover wildlife, not pat ourselves on the back for keeping them on a list forever,” said Lummis.
This Congress, Lummis along with several members of the Senate Western Caucus have been working to make meaningful improvements to the Endangered Species Act.
In May, the Senate passed Lummis’ Congressional Review Act resolution that would retain the regulatory definition of habitat within the Endangered Species Act. Currently, the Biden administration scrapped a 2020 rule that defined habitat, greatly expanding the impact of critical habitat designations. This has major effects on landowners, as it reduces the value of any private property within a designation because prospective landowners recognize the burdens that accompany a designation. It also greatly impacts any land with a federal nexus through permits or funding, as a critical habitat triggers significant scrutiny resulting in burdensome limitations on land use and costly mitigation requirements.
In May, the Senate also passed Sen. Markwayne Mullin’s (R-OK) Congressional Review Act resolution to remove the northern long-eared bat from the Endangered Species List. On November 30, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published its final rule listing the northern long-eared bat as endangered. After Sens. Lummis and Mullin, alongside their colleagues, expressed opposition, FWS announced it would delay the effective date for the final rule to March 31, 2023. On March 6, 2023, FWS announced interim guidance to assist stakeholders in the transition to the reclassification.
Also in May, the Senate passed Senator Roger Marshall’s (R-KS) Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn the lesser prairie chicken’s listing as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Putting federal restrictions on farms and energy production will not save the lesser prairie chicken, but it will cost western states jobs and threaten peoples’ livelihoods.
Lummis has been outspoken about the need to remove the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear from the Endangered Species List. Earlier this year, she introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2023 to delist the grizzly bear.