Discovery Guides Areas

  Environmental Policy Issues  


Key Citations

Web Sites


Congressional Research Service Reports
Redistributed as a Service of the NLE*

RL30792 - The Endangered Species Act: Consideration of Economic Factors (pdf)

5-Jan-2001; Pamela Baldwin; 13 p.

Update: April 15, 2003

Previous Releases:

Abstract: The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides for the listing and protection of species that are found to be endangered or threatened species that might become extinct. The listing of a species as endangered triggers the prohibitions in the Act against taking (killing or harming) individuals of the protected species, unless a permit is obtained to take individuals incidental to an otherwise lawful proposed action, or an exemption for the proposed action is obtained. Unauthorized taking of a listed species can result in civil or criminal penalties. These prohibitions and potential penalties can affect various activities, including development and use of land, with attendant economic impacts. Therefore, the extent to which likely economic impacts can be taken into account under the ESA has generated interest and discussion.

The determination of whether a species should be listed as endangered or threatened must be based solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available. (Commercial data here refers to trade data.) The data that may be considered at the listing stage may include facts related to a species population, habitat, distribution, etc., as well as threats to its continued survival, but must not include economic factors.

However, economic factors may be, and in some instances must be, considered in devising responses to the listing of a species e.g. in the designation of critical habitat, in the process for obtaining an exemption for a particular proposed action from the prohibitions of the ESA, and in the development of the recovery plan for a listed species. Economic factors also play less direct roles in the permitting processes.

Parts of the ESA relate to commercial importation and trade in listed species. This report does not address those issues, but rather discusses the ESA generally, aside from the commercial context, and how some of its provisions relate to the consideration of economic factors. It will be updated as circumstances warrant. [read report]

* These CRS reports were produced by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress providing nonpartisan research reports to members of the House and Senate. The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has made these reports available to the public at large, but the Congressional Research Service is not affiliated with the NCSE or the National Library for the Environment (NLE). This web site is not endorsed by or associated with the Congressional Research Service. The material contained in the CRS reports does not necessarily express the views of NCSE, its supporters, or sponsors. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. NCSE disclaims all warranties, either express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event shall NCSE be liable for any damages.