December 20, 2014 · 28 Kislev

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The Endangered Species Act (ESA)
The ESA is the backbone of environmental protection for threatened and endangered species as and their habitats, serving as the final safety net for plant and animal species threatened with extinction.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the backbone of environmental protection for threatened and endangered animal and plant species as well as habitats and whole ecosystems.  The ESA serves as the final safety net for plant and animal species threatened with extinction.  The ESA’s effects are twofold.  On an individual basis tThe act prohibits the taking of an endangered species, which is . According to the NOAA Coastal Services Center “taking a species” is defined by the NOAA as “harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting or attempting to engage in any of this type of conduct.” 

In addition, one of the main byproducts of the ESA is the establishment ofestablishes cCritical hHabitats, the area in wherewherein the “physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the species” are found.  While maintaining Ccritical habitats is crucial to endangered species survival’s role in promoting species recovery gives it a unique place among ESA protections.  However, less than 9 percent of species have critical habitat designation. Thus, the ESA requires government agencies, private developers and individuals to consider the effect of their activities on both species and habitat.  This is done by providing grants to states to protect endangered species as well as mandating habitat destruction.

In December of 2008, the outgoing Bush administration finalized a series of controversial regulatory changes to the Endangered Species Act. The Department of Interior argued that these changes are designed to streamline the species listing process, whereby government agencies whether to designate species as threatened or endangered and grant the relevant protections. However, the Endangered Species Coalition and allies in the environmental community argue that the changes actually undercut the Act by eliminating the need for scientific review during the listing process and allowing relevant agencies to ignore the impacts of climate change on species and habitats when making listing decisions.

Additionally, the Endangered Species Act is currently overdue for reauthorization, which promises to be a controversial process.  There is a great deal of debate surrounding this reauthorization and many people believe that the ESA is in need of an overhaul.  Environmentalists, scientists and legislators agree that the ESA, enacted in 1973, has not yet fully fulfilled its intended purpose.  Despite the ESA’s longstanding record of keeping many species from becoming extinct, very few listed species have been recovered and been subsequently de-listed. Some These groups believe that this lack of full recovery showsis evidence that the law needs to be strengthened, with an emphasis on recovery, while others .  On the other side of the debate are those who argue that development of private property should not be hindered by the ESA. 

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