The federal Endangered Species Act has been called the world’s gold standard for environmental protection. Passed in 1973, it strengthened earlier federal protections for animals that had been nearly wiped out by humans, including bald eagles, humpback whales and California condors.
But the act has faced opposition from those who believe it unfairly protects animals that sometimes poach livestock and that it unfairly restricts land use.
At a recent hearing to discuss “modernizing the Endangered Species Act,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the ESA “is not working today.”
On the House side, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the act “has never been used for the rehabilitation of species. … It’s been used to control the land. We’ve missed the entire purpose of the Endangered Species Act. It has been hijacked.”
A former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director at the Senate hearing responded to calls that …