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Endangered Species Act Amendments of 1978 Statement on Signing S. 2899 Into Law.

November 10, 1978

I am signing into law today S. 2899, the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 1978.

In addition to providing needed authorization for the endangered species program, the bill establishes a special seven-member Cabinet-level committee. The Committee will be authorized to exempt programs and activities of Federal agencies from the requirement not to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered or threatened species. While I believe that this new exemption process is not necessary, I hope that as the Committee carries out its responsibilities, it will make the utmost efforts to protect the existence of the species inhabiting this planet. In the past, the act has worked well without this exemption process, because all agencies have made efforts to resolve conflicts and, where necessary, to pursue alternate courses of action. This consultation and cooperation should continue under these new amendments, minimizing the number of requests for exemptions. Destruction of the life of an endangered or threatened species should never be undertaken lightly, no matter how insignificant the species may appear today.

I am asking that the Committee members be exceedingly cautious in considering exemptions, and that the exercise of possible national security exemptions by the Secretary of Defense be undertaken only in grave circumstances posing a clear and immediate threat to national security.

In some ways these amendments improve the Endangered Species Act. The consultation process will be strengthened; funds are authorized from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase endangered plant habitat; and provisions for enforcement. against commercial violators of the act are improved. Of course, the most welcome provision is the reauthorization of appropriations for the act, which expired on September 30, 1978.

I recognize that this has been a difficult issue. Many Members of Congress have worked very hard to preserve the essence of the Endangered Species Act while allowing flexibility which many perceived to be necessary. I congratulate Senators John Culver, Jennings Randolph, Howard Baker, and Malcolm Wallop and Congressmen John Murphy, Robert Leggett, John Dingell, David Bowen, and Ed Forsythe for their hard work, especially in the hurried last hours of the 95th Congress.

My administration will make every effort to implement these amendments properly and to work with the Congress to secure continued authorization for the Endangered Species Act in the future.

Note: As enacted, S. 2899 is Public Law 95632, approved November 10.

Jimmy Carter, Endangered Species Act Amendments of 1978 Statement on Signing S. 2899 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244037

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