The first Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report, Endangered
Species: Continuing Controversy (September 15, 1998) addresses
the controversy surrounding the Endangered Species Act of 1973
The second CRS report, Endangered
Species List Revisions: A Summary of Delisting and Downlisting
(January 5, 1998) outlines the process and reasons for delisting
or downlisting, and summarizes the 27 species delisted due to
extinction, recovery, or data revision, and the 22 species that
have been downlisted from endangered to threatened status due
to stabilized or improving populations.
The third CRS report, Wildlife Restoration Projects Fund
(May 2, 1997) discusses this program, which provides federal grants-in-aid
to state agencies for conservation through land and water management
for wild birds and mammals.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) has been one of the
most controversial of all environmental laws. Undoubtedly, the
controversy stems from the strict substantive provisions of this
law compared to many other environmental laws which tend to be
more procedurally oriented or to permit greater administrative
discretion. As a result of the ESA's standards, the Act often
plays a role in disputes in which all sides agree that a given
species is not the center of the debate.
The focus in the 104th Congress was on ESA funding matters and
various amendments to appropriations bills, as well as attempts
at more comprehensive revisions of the Act. The only enactments
affecting ESA were two moratoria on further listings, and a provision
in the immigration bill exempting certain border activities of
the Immigration and Naturalization Service from the Act. The FY1997
appropriations bill included a listing moratorium but provided
for a presidential waiver that was invoked shortly after the bill
was signed. The authorization for spending under ESA expired on
October 1, 1992. The prohibitions and requirements of the Act
remain in force, even in the absence of an authorization, and
funds were appropriated to implement the administrative provisions
of the Act in both sessions.
Few observers expect to see a comprehensive reauthorization of
ESA signed into lawduring the 105th Congress. However, in recent
weeks, there have been repeated reports of an effort to reach
a compromise on S. 1180, a bill to reauthorize the Act (reported
by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works). Key
players, besides the bill's cosponsors include the Administration
and the Senate majority leader. The effort is said to represent
an attempt to "lay down a marker" for the 106th Congress,
since most observers see at most a small chance in the remaining
time of reaching a compromise that can pass in both chambers.
A few observers suggest that pieces of S. 1180 might be added
to the Interior appropriations bill, but this action might pull
apart the fabric of the compromises already in the bill, according
to some of the bill's advocates. Objections to portions of the
bill range from its failure to include compensation for property
rights to the higher cost of administering a more complex law
(i.e., less conservation per dollar appropriated). Whether those
willing to accept compromise on some points outnumber those who
wish to pass only a far-reaching bill remains to be seen. H.R.
2351, a bill supported by much of the environmental community,
has drawn a number of cosponsors, but has not been scheduled for
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The question of whether the Endangered Species Act (ESA) "works"
is an important part of the debate before Congress concerning
both its annual appropriations and reauthorization of the Act
itself. Information on the species that have been delisted or
downlisted from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife
and Plants is ofien cited when judging the ESA's success or failure.
This report outlines the process and reasons for delisting or
downlisting, and summarizes the 27 species delisted due to extinction,
recovery, or data revision, and the 22 species that have been
downlisted from endangered to threatened status due to stabilized
or improving populations.
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Since 1937, a cooperative program between the federal and state
governments has existed for wildlife restoration. This program
provides federal grants-in-aid to state agencies for conservation
through land and water management for wild birds and mammals.
While up to 8% of the collected revenues from excise taxes dedicated
to the program may be retained by the federal government for administration,
all remaining funds are apportioned to the states and territories
for use either in wildlife restoration or hunter safety and education
Wildlife restoration programs receive all funds generated from
the excise tax on firearms other than pistols and revolvers and
all funds collected from shells and cartridges. Additionally,
one-half of the excise taxes collected from pistols, revolvers,
and archery equipment goes for wildlife restoration purposes.
Hunter safety and education programs are funded from the remaining
half of excise taxes collected on pistols, revolvers, and archery
equipment. The states have been authorized by law to use bunter
safety and education funds for wildlife restoration projects.
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