The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of iconic species such as the Humpback Whale, Florida Manatee and Bald Eagle. It has also generated considerable controversy.
In an interview earlier this year, Utah candidate for U.S. Senate Mitt Romney stated that the Endangered Species Act needs to be reformed by giving more power to local and state governments in the decision-making process.
"Coming together to discuss such things as changing the Endangered Species Act so that it really is effective or changing the Antiquities Act so it’s not an overbearing act, those are things where congressmen and senators can come together to reach those kinds of ideas together and hopefully work together as a group of senators and congressmen to affect real change," Romney said.
In a written statement to Utah Public Radio, the Romney campaign stated that “economic impact should be taken into account” before a species is listed as threatened or endangered. But according to the University of Utah Law Professor Bob Keiter, the ESA already accounts for economic considerations.
"Congress instructed the agencies that in designating critical habitat for listed species that it is also to take into account economic concerns," said Keiter.
While Keiter says the ESA rarely halts economic development from occurring, Romney and other Republican lawmakers are still calling for reform.
Tune in next week to hear more from Professor Keiter and what Candidate Romney’s stance on the Endangered Species Act may mean for Utah’s wildlife.