US House Representative Greg Gianforte delivered a speech in Congress on January 30, during which he described the purpose and scope of his bill, the Less Imprecision in Species Treatment Act of 2020 (LIST Act). Gianforte is the sponsor of this legislation, which amends the 1973 Endangered Species Act to grant more power to the Fish and Wildlife Service in the listing and delisting process.

Gianforte based his sponsorship speech around the recent recovery of the Grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and other areas. Gianforte began his speech on the House floor by acknowledging that, although the Grizzly bear has been recovered from endangerment, “Constant litigation has prevented the US Fish and Wildlife Service from delisting the Grizzly bear and returning management to the states.”

“I brought Secretary Bernhardt of the Department of the Interior to meet with families, ranchers, and local leaders in Choteau, Montana just last fall,” Gianforte said. “Parents told us how they put bars on their windows because the Grizzly bears were looking in their children’s bedrooms. At the point bears view children as a food source, we need to make changes. We need to put human safety ahead of the recovered Grizzly bear.”

On January 14, 2020, the Fish and Wildlife Service opened up a five-year review on the Grizzly bear under the Endangered Species Act. The Grizzly bear was listed as a threatened species in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on July 30, 2019, in compliance with a Montana court order. In December of 2019, a federal judge in Missoula instructed the Fish and Wildlife Service to release an overdue report on the status of the Grizzly bear.

“Misuse and abuse of the Endangered Species Act are also shutting down responsible forest management,” Gianforte stated in his speech. “Every forest service project in Montana seemingly ends up in court. We are unable to manage our forests, improve our habitat, and reduce the severity of wildfires. We must put common sense guardrails on the Endangered Species Act. We must restore it to its original purpose of recovering species, not serving as a tool for frivolous lawsuits from extreme special interest groups that work to shut down critical projects in our state.”

In August of 2019, the Department of the Interior revised the Endangered Species Act under direction from the Trump Administration. One of the revisions mandates that the listing process only be based on available scientific or commercial data. The updated Endangered Species Act also changed protections for species listed as ‘threatened.’ A public press release from the Department of the Interior states that the revisions “ease the regulatory burden on the American public.”

While describing his proposed LIST Act, Gianforte said that “The bill allows the Fish and Wildlife Service to reverse listings that were made due to bad data, and the bill prohibits abuses of the listing process. It will ban those who intentionally submit false information from submitting listing petitions for ten years. These are common sense reforms. I am proud to sponsor the LIST Act and support the rest of package to better protect species, increase collaboration, and improve forest health.”

The LIST Act was introduced to the House on January 10 and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources. The full text of the legislation can be found here.