Lummis, Ricketts, Sullivan Introduce CRAs to Undo President Biden’s Disastrous ESA Rules

May 15, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Senate Western Caucus Vice Chair Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) introduced three Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions to overturn the Biden administration’s reversal of key reforms to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the Trump administration that increased stakeholder engagement, defined critical habitat and ensured species recovery plans were effective. These CRAs will ensure the highly-effective Trump-era reforms stay in place instead of being replaced by one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington bureaucrats that are disastrous to the western way of life.

“The Endangered Species Act has been a failed and flawed piece of legislation for more than 50 years. With a less than 2% recovery rate, the Trump-era reforms finally represented a real and meaningful step in the right direction,” said Lummis. “Instead of working with stakeholders out west to improve the ESA, the Biden administration chose to undo what worked and double down on what did not. Instead of placating to radical activists, the Biden administration needs to work with landowners, businesses and workers in Wyoming and throughout the west who will be hurt the most by this big government mandate.”

“The Endangered Species Act was a well-intentioned law, however, the Biden administration is enacting ESA rules to promote a radical environmental agenda, despite the devastating impacts these rules have on our economy, said Sullivan. “Senator Lummis, Ricketts, and I have introduced three CRAs to undo these rules, rein in this federal power grab, promote science-based decision with local consultation, and halt the relentless Biden-administration war against Alaska and other rural states.” 

“Biden bureaucrats are abusing their authority to push through stifling regulations that will hurt our economy and burden private property owners,” said Ricketts. “These one-size-fits-all rules hurt landowners and refuse to take into account how they will hurt local economies. Americans are tired of ‘Bureaucrats Gone Wild.’ Our bills would overturn these rules and protect private property rights.” 

The resolutions are cosponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Lee (R-UT), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Katie Britt (R-AL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roger Marshall (R-KS) and John Hoeven (R-ND).


The three Congressional Review Act resolutions aim to overturn a series of new rules put forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that undo three key reforms to the Endangered Species Act implemented by the Trump administration in 2019.

Blanket Rule Elimination 

  • The 2019 reforms eliminated the “blanket rule” under Section 4(d) that automatically provides endangered level protections to species listed only as threatened and instead required threatened species to be managed with specifically tailored plans.
  • The Biden rule reinstates the blanket rule, essentially treating all threatened species as endangered once again.

Critical Habitat Changes 

  • The 2019 reforms allowed FWS and NOAA to research and share the economic impacts of a listing determination under the ESA and provided flexibility in defining critical habitat.
  • Under the Biden reversal, the agencies are no longer able to share or disseminate information on the economic impact of a listing and requires that unoccupied areas are designated as critical habitat.

Section 7 Changes 

  • Among the numerous changes to Section 7, the 2019 reforms established standards to ensure analysis for proposed actions is limited to only “activities that are reasonably certain to occur” instead of using hypothetical worst-case scenarios that were unlikely to happen. 
  • The Biden rule would eliminate this clarification and allow radical environmentalist to depart from the facts before them and use fear-mongering as a pre-tense for sweeping regulations.

On August 1, 2023, Senator Lummis sent a letter to FWS and NOAA asking for a comment period extension for the three rules that would roll back the Trump administration’s Endangered Species Act reforms. 

On May 11, 2023, the United States Senate passed a Congressional Review Actresolution introduced by Senator Lummis that would overturn the Biden administration’s ESA rule related to critical habitat. The CRA is awaiting consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On September 14, 2023, Chairman Newhouse and Chair Lummis introduced legislation to prevent the Departments of the Interior and Commerce from finalizing these rule proposals and retain the Trump-era regulations within the ESA.

On March 7, 2024, Senator Lummis introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill prohibiting funds from being used to finalize the three new ESA rules.

Click here to view the Blanket Rule Elimination CRA, here to view the Critical Habitat CRA from FWS, here to view the Critical Habitat CRA from National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS),  here to view the Section 7 CRA from NMFS and here to view the Section 7 CRA from FWS.