Brief History of the Endangered Species Act
Legislative History of the endangered Species Act

Brief History of the Endangered Species Act
Legislative History of the endangered Species Act
2017-01-23T10:21:08+00:00

December 28, 1973

President Richard Nixon signs the Endangered Species Act of 1973 into law. The bill passed the Senate on December 19 by voice vote and the House of Representatives on December 20 by a vote of 355 to 4.

November 10, 1978

President Jimmy Carter signs Public Law No. 95-362, the Endangered Species Act of 1978. The bill passed the Senate and House of Representatives by voice votes.

October 13, 1982

President Ronald Reagan signs Public Law No. 97-304, the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 1982. The bill passed the House of Representatives and Senate by voice votes on September 20 and 30 respectively.

The legislation:

Prohibited the consideration of economic factors in the listing process;
Established time tables to ensure that petitions for listing were dealt with expeditiously;
Established procedures for consultation at the initial stages of a project that might impact a listed species;
Adopted procedures for shortening the consultation process;
Specified that good faith actions taken by a private entity to minimize “takings” may be exempted from the prohibition against incidental takings; and,
Encouraged the establishment of experimental populations for the recovery of species.

October 7, 1988

President Ronald Reagan signs Public Law No. 100-478, the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 1987. The bill passed the Senate and House of Representatives by voice votes on September 15 and 26 respectively.

The legislation:

Appropriated funds for the Act’s implementation through FY 1992;
Gave the Fish and Wildlife Service authority to monitor importation and exportation of protected plants;
Required that “candidate” species be monitored;
Improved procedures for the development and implementation of recovery plans;
Required that de-listed species continue to be monitored for five years following their de-listing;
Established a “cooperative endangered species conservation fund” to provide matching funds to states for endangered species conservation projects; and,
Increased the maximum penalties for violating the ESA, and designated that a potion of the fines levied are to go to conservation efforts.

September 30, 1992

The authorization of the Endangered Species Act expires. Implementation of the Act is continued through annual appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and the Interior.

Early February 1995

House Resources Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) announced the establishment of the House ESA Task Force. Chaired by Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA), this task force held seven field hearings across the country and several hearings in Washington, D.C. Over 150 people testified and more than 8,000 people attended these successful hearings.

February 23, 1995

During consideration of H.R. 450, “The Regulatory Transition Act,” the House of Representatives agreed by voice vote to halt all listings under the ESA until the Act is reauthorized.

March 16, 1995

During consideration of H.R. 889, the FY 1995 Defense Supplemental Appropriation bill, the Senate, on a bi-partisan vote of 60 to 38, supported an amendment offered by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) prohibiting the listing of additional species and the further designation of critical habitat under the ESA until the end of FY 1995 or until the Act is reauthorized.

April 10, 1995

President Clinton signed H.R. 889 into law, thus codifying the Hutchison ESA moratorium passed by the Senate on March 16.

May 9, 1995

Senators Slade Gorton (R-WA), J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) introduced S. 768, the Endangered Species Act Reform Amendments of 1995.

Late May/Early June 1995

Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Drinking Water, Fisheries and Wildlife, hosted several field hearings to examine people’s experiences dealing with the Endangered Species Act.

July 18, 1995

The House of Representatives, by a vote of 244 to 181, approved the $5.9 billion Fiscal Year 1996 funding bill for the Department of the Interior (DOI). As part of that legislation, funding for endangered species activities conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service was cut by $16 million; all funding for listing and pre-listing activities under the ESA was eliminated pending reauthorization of the Act; funding for both consultations and recovery planning was cut by roughly $3 million; and the National Biological Service (NBS) was abolished as an independent agency.

August 9, 1995

The Senate, by a vote of 92 to 6, approved its version of FY 1996 funding for the DOI. As part of this legislation, funding for endangered species activities conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service was cut by $9.5 million; the moratorium on additional listings was extended until September 1996, or until the ESA is reauthorized, whichever comes first; funds for pre-listing activities were cut by $640,000; funding for recovery activities were cut by $3.2 million; and the NBS was melded with the other biological research activities conducted by the DOI.

September 9, 1995

Congressmen Young and Pombo, and a bi-partisan group of 116 additional cosponsors, introduced H.R. 2275, the Endangered Species Conservation and Management Act.

October 12, 1995

The House Resources Committee approved H.R. 2275 by an overwhelming margin of 27 to 17.

October 26, 1995

Following field hearings and a series of hearings in Washington, D.C., Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID), the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Drinking Water, Fisheries and Wildlife of the Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced S. 1364, the Endangered Species Conservation Act.

February 28, 1996

The Department of the Interior announces a change in its policy on candidate species which eliminates the “Category 2” designation for candidate species. Overnight, the number of candidate species drops from over 4,000 to roughly 420. The list of former “Category 2” candidate species is still being maintained, however. They are now being called “Species of Concern,” and the list of those species is being monitored by the Nature Conservancy.

March 11, 1996

The Fish and Wildlife Service releases policy guidelines on how it will prioritize its listing actions once the moratorium on additional listings and the designation of critical habitat is lifted. In essence, the guidelines state that they will deal with all emergency listings first, then review the status of all other proposed and candidate species, and then finally look to delisting actions.

April 26, 1996

Following threats from President Clinton that he would veto the FY 1996 funding bill for the Department of the Interior as well as other sectors of government if the moratorium was still in place, Congress gives the President the power to waive the moratorium if he feels it is necessary. On April 26, saying the moratorium would cause “egregious” environmental damage, President Clinton exercises this right and lifts the moratorium.

May 20, 1996

The California red-legged frog becomes the first species to be added to the list of protected species after the ESA moratorium is lifted.

July 1996

The National Governors’ Association adopts a resolution calling for reform of the ESA and more involvement by the states. NESARC had endorsed this resolution.