Jul 28, 2017 - Introduced
Bills and resolutions are referred to committees which debate the bill before possibly sending it on to the whole chamber.
Sep 27, 2018 - Ordered Reported
A committee has voted to issue a report to the full chamber recommending that the bill be considered further. Only about 1 in 4 bills are reported out of committee.
Read proposed bill text on GovTrack
How should animals be added to the endangered species list?
Context and what the bill does
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 passed Congress almost unanimously, in the wake of environmental degradation and increasing numbers of extinctions causing damage to entire ecosystems. But Republicans now criticized many elements of the law, often citing big business’s inability to mine or drill on certain lands because of seemingly insignificant endangered species.
The Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act would require any science used in determining an animal’s endangered species status be made public on the internet.
However, the phrase “best scientific and commercial data available” has no restrictions in the legislative text, to the point that the bill clarifies that _all_such data qualifies. Critics worry that this would allow for a plunge in the quality of the science behind the Endangered Species Act, leading fewer species to qualify — even ones who deserve the protection.
It was introduced as bill H.R. 3608 in July 2017 by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA4).
What supporters say
Supporters argue the bill will allow for better environmental decision making with increased openness.
“The legislation will allow the American people to see the data that is being used to make Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions,” Rep. McClintock said in a press release. “This measure opens up the information so that the public can look at it, the science can be debated and challenged, and the best possible decision rendered.”
“Local governments, tribes and states often have a great deal of information on the local conditions and have simply been ignored during previous considerations of listing decisions.”
What opponents say
Opponents counter that the bill would undermine an existing piece of legislation which works by favoring business interests instead instead of providing for the protection of species which need it.
“Under the guise of streamlining, H.R. 3608 would instead rip the process up in red tape,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ3), ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said at a committee markup about a package of several bills including this one.
“This bill would create more reporting requirements, divert agency resources for recovery efforts, and define the ‘best available science’ to include data that may or may not be best, may not be available, and may not even be science. This bill does not require data to be of a high quality or even a moderate quality. There is no standard at all.”
“If a county, state, ot tribe wanted to submit fraudulent or incomplete data intended to mislead, even that data would be considered as the best available, regardless of what the scientific experts have to say. Luckily, the ESA’s existing public notice and comment period… [is] there to provide transparency and hold the government accountable for using sound science to make determinations under the law.”
Odds of passage
The bill first attracted 22 House cosponsors, all Republicans. It passed the House Natural Resources Committee on September 27.
It would next go to the full House. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) supports similar legislation.