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Invasive Species: Major Laws and the Role of Selected Federal Agencies

Congressional Research Service (CRS) | January 17th, 2017

In the United States, numerous federal and interagency efforts share responsibilities regarding invasive species. Among the federal agencies involved are the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Transportation, and others, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Executive Office of the President. Of these, three Departments—Agriculture, Commerce, and Interior—play a major role by co-chairing the National Invasive Species Council (NISC). Created by Executive Order 13112 in 1999, NISC provides high-level interdepartmental coordination of federal invasive species actions and works with other federal and nonfederal groups to address invasive species issues at the national level.

In FY2016, the U.S. government spent an estimated $2.3 billion across a range of federal agencies and activities in an effort to prevent, control, and eradicate invasive species domestically. Activities at the Department of Agriculture accounted for the bulk of available federal funding, nearly $1.2 billion (53% of total available funds). Activities at the Department of Homeland Security, comprised of mostly border protection and security activities, accounted for about $0.8 billion (33% of total funding). The remainder of federal funding, about $0.3 billion (about 14% of total funding) covers activities across a range of agencies at the Departments of Interior, Commerce, and Defense, and other independent agencies.

Despite efforts to achieve high-level interdepartmental coordination, comprehensive legislation on the treatment of invasive species has never been enacted, and no single law provides coordination among federal agencies. Instead, the current legal framework is largely governed by a patchwork of laws, regulations, policies, and programs. Some laws are tailored to individual species or narrowly focused on what is affected by the species. Other laws have a broader intended purpose and may only peripherally address invasive species. Some laws, although they do not directly address invasive species control or prevention, may limit such introductions.


ecosystem management, invasive species

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