Originally adopted in 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires federal agencies to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or adversely modify critical habitat of such species. The law also prohibits any action that causes a “taking” of any listed species of fish or wildlife on public or private lands. Since its enactment, the ESA has been among the most contentious environmental laws because its substantive provisions can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Once a species is listed, ESA compliance can seriously impact the ability of co-ops to site and maintain power lines.
Where we stand:
- Where the costs for compliance are not shared by all citizens, we oppose the listing of plant and animal species in rural electric cooperative service territories and transmission routes.
- The designation of critical habit for endangered species protection and recovery should accommodate essential electric transmission and distribution corridors, and the Act should be amended to clarify that electrocution, contacts, or collisions by avian species do not qualify as an intentional “taking” of protected avian species.
- Congress should reauthorize the ESA, and in so doing, make procedural changes to make the Act more efficient, effective, less costly and with the goal of finding a balance that accommodates essential economic activities.