Letter From the Editor

By: M. Elsbeth McPhee

Since the Endangered Species Act came up for reauthorization in 1992, Congress has tried each year to renew this important environmental law. On September 16, a controversial reauthorization bill, S. 1180, was introduced to the Senate. This bill is sponsored by Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho), and Senators John Chafee (R-Rhode Island), Max Baucus (D-Montana), and Harry Reid (D-Nevada). Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt was also closely involved in the drafting of S. 1180 and has pledged to support the bill.

The bill's provisions include:

Though hailed by some as the right direction in endangered species recovery, others feel it will drastically weaken endangered species protections. As of October 3, the bill had passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by a 15-3 margin with little debate and is widely expected to pass quickly through the Senate. Assuming a Senate bill does pass, the House of Representatives will likely take up the debate over ESA reauthorization at some point next year. In the meantime, this legislation promises to be the one of most important pieces of ESA legislation to hit the floor in years. In the next issue of the Endangered Species UPDATE, look for further discussion of S. 1180 and Endangered Species Act Reauthorization bills.

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