Daines Supports Bill to Prevent President Biden from Harming Montana Way of Life

Bill would retain Trump-era flexibility for Montana landowners that helps with species recovery

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines joined his colleagues in introducing a bill to keep flexibility needed for species recovery and protect Montana landowners from onerous regulations under the “Endangered Species Act” (ESA). The bill would prevent the Departments of the Interior and Commerce from finalizing three rule proposals and retain the Trump-era regulations within the “Endangered Species Act.” The legislation will preserve legal clarity for Montana landowners and businesses while also keeping flexibility that has improved species recovery by following specific science-based recommendations rather than arbitrary requirements from DC.

President Biden is once again forcing one-size-fits-all mandates on rural Montana communities,” Daines said.Species recovery depends on science-based decisions and the voluntary cooperation of private landowners, and these proposals are a step backwards to policies that have proven ineffective. I am proud to continue fighting for commonsense proposals to improve wildlife recovery and against the weaponization of the ‘Endangered Species Act’ so both our agriculture communities and our wildlife can continue to thrive without the barrier of big government.”

The bill is cosponsored by Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.), Roger Marshall (R-Kans.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kans.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

Click here to read the bill text.


In 2019, The Trump administration finalized key changes to the ESA that added more flexibility for affected stakeholders while also ensuring species’ recovery plans take a tailored and targeted approach that will benefit species. Last month, the Biden administration moved to repeal and replace these changes, which are detailed below.

Blanket Rule Elimination:

  • Currently, Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are required to manage threatened species with specifically tailored plans, leading to more flexibility for landowners and stakeholders and better outcomes for species recovery. 
  • The Biden proposal would eliminate this species-specific planning and reinstate the blanket rule under Section 4(d), essentially treating all threatened species as endangered once again. 

Critical Habitat Changes:

  • The 2019 revisions allow FWS and NOAA to research and share the economic impacts of a listing determination under the ESA, and it also provides flexibility in defining critical habitat, allowing the agencies leeway to only designate unoccupied areas as critical habitat if necessary. 
  • Under the Biden proposal, the agencies are no longer able to share or disseminate information on the economic impact of a listing.
  • More alarmingly, the proposal mandates that the agencies must again designate unoccupied areas as critical habitat removing key flexibility. 

Section 7 Changes:

  • The 2019 revisions to Section 7, clarified the interagency consultation process and codified alternative consultation mechanisms to provide greater efficiency and established standards to ensure effects analysis for proposed actions is limited to only “activities that are reasonably certain to occur.”
  • The Biden rule would eliminate this clarification, which will lead to a less realistic and inflexible approach that will end up harming the recovery of species. 

On August 1, 2023, Senator Daines sent a letter to the FWS and NOAA asking for a comment period extension for the three rules that would roll back the Trump administration’s ESA reforms.