Since the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) was enacted, federal agencies and courts have struggled to balance species conservation and recovery with economic and development concerns. Industry often struggles with ESA requirements that delay development projects and increase costs while not necessarily providing commensurate species and habitat benefits. Conservation organizations devote great effort toward ensuring that agencies adhere strictly to the requirements of the ESA, but such efforts can lead to litigation-driven agendas that divert available resources away from other, potentially more beneficial, conservation actions.
Despite concerns from industry, the federal agencies, and conservationists alike, the ESA and its implementing regulations remain largely uninformed by practical experience. Recognizing this shortcoming, the INGAA Foundation, Inc. (“INGAA”) commissioned Holland & Hart LLP to study and report on suggestions for improvements to the ESA. The suggestions presented here are aimed at maintaining the sustainable existence of threatened and endangered species while allowing necessary natural gas development projects to be permitted and implemented in an efficient and cost-effective manner.