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There can be economic interests on multiple sides of some vanishing species issues. Like the miners' canaries signaling a scarce resource safe air supply , declining species are often symptoms of resource scarcities and altered ecosystems. Examples of such resource controversies include the Tellico Dam hydropower development and construction jobs versus farmland protection and tribal graves, as well as the endangered snail darter ; and Northwest timber harvest protection of logging jobs and communities versus commercial and sport fishing, recreation, and ecosystem protection, as well as salmon and spotted owls.

The worldwide debate over global climate change fossil fuels, carbon dioxide emission levels, shoreline erosion, melting glaciers, traditional jobs, etc. Tensions over the ESA have increased as species have been added to the protected list, and as the greater demands of a growing economy and human population have affected species' habitats. Both Congress and the executive branch have sought to lessen these tensions by, among other things, tailoring application of the ESA for particular circumstances. The ESA's critics contend that neither the ESA nor administrative efforts go far enough in accommodating needs other than species conservation, while the ESA's defenders counter that it only balances what they see as an inherent bias toward development in other governmental laws and policies.

Debate on the ESA splits largely along demographic lines. While most demographic groups support species conservation to some degree, that support is stronger among urban and suburban populations and less so in rural areas, and is stronger among those along the coasts and less so in central and mountain states. Sport hunters and anglers seem divided on the issue. Native Americans, as a group often dependent on natural resources e. Groups opposing strong protections for listed species usually assert that jobs will be lost if conservation measures are stringent, but those seeking strong protections often claim that jobs will be lost if they are not.

It is also noteworthy that, while the debate often centers on jobs and biology, people on both sides claim ethical support for their positions, and many religious groups participate in the debate. There is a difference between the statutory authority to carry out an action and the authorization of appropriations within a statute. The ESA contains both statutory authority for certain activities and a provision authorizing approp riations. Section 15 16 U. Even though Congress has continued to appropriate funding for ESA, the following questions are sometimes raised: 1 are the act's various prohibitions and authorities still in effect; 2 what are the House and Senate rules concerning appropriating in the absence of a current authorization; and 3 what would be the effect of a failure to appropriate funds for the agencies primarily for FWS and NMFS, but also Coast Guard, and Secretaries of Agriculture and Treasury to carry out their responsibilities under the ESA?

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Because the authorization for appropriations expired in FY, it is sometimes said that the ESA is not authorized. However, that does not mean that the agencies lack authority to conduct actions Sections 4, , 10, and 11; 16 U. Those statutory provisions continue to be law, even if no money were appropriated. The expiration of a provision authorizing appropriations does not end the statutory obligations created by that law. The U. Supreme Court has long held that "the mere failure of Congress to appropriate funds, without further words modifying or repealing, expressly or by clear implication, the substantive law, does not in and of itself defeat a Government obligation created by statute.

Moreover, Section 11 g 16 U. This option would still be available, regardless of agency funding. Consequently, persons carrying out acts prohibited by ESA might still face citizen suits, even if FWS or NMFS were temporarily unable to carry out their enforcement responsibilities due to lack of funds. The possibility of citizen suits could have the potential to dissuade many parties from carrying out such prohibited acts. Both the House and Senate have long-standing internal rules that distinguish between authorizations and appropriations and provide for the separate consideration of legislation containing these types of provisions.

This distinction, however, exists for the convenience of Congress and does not affect a measure's statutory force when enacted into law. Either chamber can choose to observe or waive its rules during the course of the legislative process. Clause 2 of House Rule XXI prohibits consideration of measures or amendments that contain unauthorized appropriations. Further, clause 5 of House Rule XXII prohibits consideration of conference reports containing unauthorized appropriations. These rules are enforced via points of order on the floor.

The House Rules Committee, however, may report a special rule that sets procedural parameters for the consideration of an appropriations measure. This can include the waiver of rules prohibiting unauthorized appropriations for any specified floor amendments, as well as the measure itself. In order for these waivers to occur, the House must adopt a special rule prior to consideration of the measure or conference report.

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Senate rules also distinguish between authorizations and appropriations and prohibit unauthorized appropriations in both committee and floor amendments, except in specified circumstances Rule XVI, paragraphs 2 and 4. This prohibition does not apply to conference reports. This rule is enforced via points of order during consideration, but its application may be waived by unanimous consent.

The practical effects of a lapse in funding would be mixed from the standpoint of supporters and critics of existing law.

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These activities are described in the remainder of the report. The last major effort to end all funding for the ESA occurred in the th Congress. Interest at the time was centered on a desire to eliminate a major source of conflict in projects such as those cited above. However, because of the type of effects just listed, the effort was abandoned, although funding for the listing of new species was temporarily halted.

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The answer to this question depends very much on the choice of measurement. A major goal of the ESA is the recovery of species to the point at which the protection of the ESA is no longer necessary. If this is the standard, the ESA might be considered a failure, because only 34 species have been delisted due to recovery, as of July 25, It can be quite difficult to prove whether extraordinarily rare species are simply that, or in fact are already extinct.

For example, two bird species, the ivory-billed woodpecker and the Eskimo curlew, are both listed as endangered, though confirmed sightings are so rare or so far in the past that these birds may actually be extinct; proving a negative i. Rare species are, by definition, hard to find. Even so, because some scientific studies have demonstrated that most species are listed only once they are very depleted e. One could also ask what species might have become extinct if there were no ESA: some species e. The authors are unaware of comprehensive studies regarding the likely status of rare species were there no ESA, but some species e.


Scientific information and analysis are pillars of ESA actions and enforcement. Three issues form the scientific background of the ESA: What are the leading causes of extinction? Is extinction normal? How do current extinction rates compare to background levels of extinction? Until the mid th century, the focus of the extinction debate was on losses due to over-exploitation, generally through hunting, trapping, or fishing.

The poster species of the debate were passenger pigeons, tigers, wolves, and other well-known animals. But during the 20 th century, a shift occurred. The vast majority of species, including those for which actual removal from the wild was probably an early factor in their decline, now are generally also at risk due to habitat loss. Habitats that have been reduced to a small fraction of their former extent include tall-grass prairie, fresh and salt water wetlands, old growth forests of most types, free-flowing rivers, coral reefs, undisturbed sandy beaches, and others. Global climate change is another contributor to habitat loss, acting in concert with other factors influencing population levels. Another high-ranking factor in the demise of many species is the introduction of nonnative invasive species. Nonnative species can be disease vectors or parasites e. The gradual homogenization of the world's flora and fauna has led to a demise of many species. If extinction is normal, some argue that there is no need for the government to intervene to halt this natural process. But is it normal?

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Geological evidence shows that the vast majority of species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct—an observation uncontested by paleontologists. However, many scientists are concerned that the current rate of extinction exceeds background extinction rates over time.

Current estimates of total numbers of species range from 3. If scientists are unsure of how many species exist, it is naturally difficult to estimate how fast they are going extinct, and whether current extinction rates exceed background extinction rates. Consequently, scientists use very conservative assumptions to make these estimates.

The resulting extinction rates 17, species per year being a typical estimate may still seem astonishingly large, in part because the public is generally unaware of the huge number of species in groups to which many people pay little or no attention e. Widely diverse methods of calculating extinction rates all suggest that current rates exceed background rates.

Normal rates are thought to be from 1 to 10 species for every 10 million species per year. That is, if there are 20 million species now, background levels would be about 2 to 20 species extinctions per year. Common estimates of current extinction rates range from to 10, times such background rates—roughly comparable to the five great episodes of extinction in the geologic past.

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Critics most frequently question these calculations by stressing uncertainties, rather than citing specific factual errors. This criticism is not surprising, since each step in these calculations contains uncertainties e. Most biologists counter by noting that similar numbers are generated in studies of widely different groups by a variety of scientists using different methods; robust results i.

Once extinct, a species cannot be revived.