Bill Proposes to Allow Private Contracts to Override ESA Protections

House Bill 5467, the Land Ownership Collaboration Accelerates Life Act of 2019, proposes to amend the Endangered Species Act to expand the agency’s ability to voluntarily contract with and authorize voluntary contracts between other private and public parties to protect certain species in exchange for protection from future conservation measures. The Act proposes to consider all such agreements as regulations, encourage the use of templates and reduction of monitoring of such agreements, and allow the Secretary to offer safe harbor agreements to parties. The Act would not allow the Secretary to determine whether any such agreement would provide a conservation benefit in their evaluation of the agreement.