The ESA at 50

February 2024
ELR 10101
Madison Calhoun, Sharmeen Morrison, Derb Carter, J.B. Ruhl, Sean Skaggs, and William Snape III

December 2023 marked 50 years since the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed into law. The ESA has proven resilient to numerous legal challenges and saved many species from extinction. But its overall success has been debated, as the list of endangered and threatened species continues to grow, and only 54 species have been taken off of the list completely. On October 26, 2023, the Environmental Law Institute hosted a panel of experts who explored the successes and shortcomings of the statute and discussed what might happen next as climate change increases the risk of extinction. This Dialogue presents a transcript of that discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Madison Calhoun is Senior Manager of Educational Programs at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). Sharmeen Morrison (moderator) is a Senior Associate Attorney in the Biodiversity Defense Program at Earthjustice. Derb Carter is a Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. J.B. Ruhl is David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair in Law and Co-Director of the Energy, Environment, and Land Use Program at Vanderbilt Law School. Sean Skaggs is a Partner with Ebbin Moser + Skaggs LLP. William Snape III is Assistant Dean of Adjunct Faculty Affairs, American University Washington College of Law.

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The ESA at 50

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