The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is both lauded and criticized as one of the most powerful environmental laws ever enacted. Proponents of the law praise it for protecting thousands of endangered species over the last forty years, while detractors argue it is a bureaucratic mess that no longer benefits humans, but instead overburdens private landowners and development and values species’ needs above human needs. These claims reflect the disparate values underlying the statute itself. At the time of the Act’s passage, some proponents pushed for endangered species reform on the belief that species have intrinsic value—that is, value that “an entity has in itself, for what it is, or as an end.” Others believed that the value of endangered species lay in their instrumental value to humans, as “means to a desired or valued end,” such as agriculture. Despite these distinct values, the Act was passed in 1973 with little to no opposition. A wide range of stakeholders with differing environmental values came together to craft a far-reaching and unprecedented environmental law. This lack of opposition demonstrates that the Endangered Species Act successfully captured both sets of values in a single, comprehensive environmental statute.
 Ronald Sandler, Intrinsic Value, Ecology, and Conservation, 3 Nature Educ. Knowledge 10, 2012, at 4.