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Time To Move On

Written by Dennis Sun

      I was reading a report the other day from the Heartland Institute on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that said that it’s time to move on from the ESA, and you and I probably agree that it is.

      We beat up on the ESA all the time – and with good reason. It is always a threat, and it doesn’t serve the purpose or the intent of the original act. We know that our Congressional delegation is working on trying to make the act to better fit the original intent to do what it is supposed to without all the economic ramifications.

The report said the ESA, in its current form, has been around since 1973. Along with the ESA, in the early 70s, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act came along, and the Environmental Protection Agency was formed. These pieces of legislation were pushed and passed during the Nixon administration, and now they are all the foundation for environmental activism.

In 1973, there were 137 species listed under the ESA. By last August the number had grown to 1,560 species, with over 757 additional species under consideration by 2018. These are staggering numbers, especially when you consider that hardly any species that have recovered have been taken off the list, like the grizzly bear or wolf.

I agree with the report’s assertion that the ESA and other acts mentioned above come with impressive titles, but the results are not very impressive. The federal government has gained control of more and more private property and has worked with environmentalists to slow or stop economic development in vast areas of our country, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. And after all of that, the record of saving “endangered species” is incredibly poor.

The report stated that, based on history, protection of any of these species under ESA will not result in actual benefits for the species, but it will increase federal government control over private property and limit authorized uses of that private property. Amen to that.

ESA, under its current interpretation, has actually harmed species. It is my understanding that currently they are fewer spotted owls now than when the government started managing for them under ESA. And look at all the people who lost jobs, businesses that went under and communities that suffered also over listing of the owl.

What it did do was provide opportunities for radical environmental groups to file friendly lawsuits that the government promptly settled and then paid the cost of the lawsuit. It is our money that paid for both sides of the action, and it has been proven that some groups have done quite well suing the government.

The report continued that federal agencies are not authorized to make law, but that is just what they are doing. Through the rule making process, federal agencies have interpreted and expanded legislative acts to the point that original legislative intent is unrecognizable.

That is why it is so important that we support our Congressional delegation and their efforts to fix the ESA and related acts that are providing income to some extreme groups out there. There is a big difference between using ESA as a threat to ranching and energy development and using it to provide opportunities through incentives and cooperation with ranchers and others to manage for species recovery while keeping our businesses intact.