Quotes on Endangered Species Act

"Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty ... The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."

John Adams
The Works of John Adams, Vol. 6
1851
Library Topic
Library Topic: Endangered Species Act

"Over 1,900 species of plants and animals - 1,351 domestic and 570 foreign - are currently con­sidered by the federal government to be in danger of extinction...  Propo­nents of the ESA cite species that have recovered due to the Act. Yet, almost invariably these claims are untrue or exaggerated. For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially claims 46 delisted spe­cies - 19 due to recovery, 17 due to data error, 9 due to extinction and one due to partial recovery/data error. In reality, the delistings were due to the following:

Twenty-seven species have been removed due to data error - including the American alliga­tor, which was delisted soon after its initial listing because it was found to be abundant, clearly indicating it was never endangered and was improperly surveyed. Nine species were determined to be extinct. Five species were delisted due primarily to factors unrelated to the ESA, including the ban on the pesticide DDT. Five species were delisted for a variety of other reasons including: private conservation; state, not federal, conservation efforts; and recovery despite harm done by the ESA."

Brian Seasholes
National Center for Policy Analysis
September 1, 2007
Library Topic
Library Topic: Endangered Species Act

"In the most basic terms, the [ESA] penalizes and thus discourages the creation and maintenance of species habitat on private land. According to University of Arizona economist Robert Innes, 'the possibility of uncompensated takings gives landowners an incentive to develop their property early on in order to reduce the risk that it will later be appropriated for public use.' Such incentives have consequences. As Robert J. Smith wrote in Regulation 15 years ago, 'The perverse incentive structure of the act accelerates destruction of the very habitat the act was designed to protect.'

Anecdotal accounts of landowners who have sought to avoid having 'endangered species problems' on their land are rampant. In Texas, property owners raze juniper tree stands favored by golden-cheeked warblers, while in California's Central Valley landowners disc brush and low-lying habitat favored by small endangered mammals such as kangaroo rats. There are even stories of landowners who 'shoot, shovel, and shut up' when they encounter endangered species on or near their land."

Jonathan H. Adler
Regulation
Cato Institute
2008
Library Topic
Library Topic: Endangered Species Act

"'The purpose of these changes is to reduce ambiguity, improve consistency, and narrow interpretive differences, even within the Services. They are a positive step forward,' said Dale Hall, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. 'In 1986, our existing rules made sense. At that time very few Federal action agencies had any in-depth expertise with section 7 and listed species, but that is not the case today. We are not being good stewards of our resources when we pursue consultation in situations where the potential effects to a species are either unlikely, incapable of being meaningfully evaluated, wholly beneficial, or pose only a remote risk of causing jeopardy to the species or its habitat.'"

Dale Hall
Press Release
Department of the Interior
August 11, 2008
Library Topic
Library Topic: Endangered Species Act

"The proposed rule is consistent with the FWS (Fishing and Wildlife Service) current understanding that it is not possible to draw a direct causal link between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and distant observations of impacts affecting species. As a result, it is inappropriate to consult on a remote agency action involving the contribution of emissions to global warming because it is not possible to link the emissions to impacts on specific listed species such as polar bears."

Press Release
Department of the Interior
August 11, 2008
Library Topic
Library Topic: Endangered Species Act

"This special rule will ensure that this icon of the arctic retains important protections as we work with the State of Alaska and other nations within the polar bear's range to develop and implement conservation measures. But as President Bush and I have said before, the ESA is not the right tool to set U.S. climate change policy."

Dirk Kempthorne
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
December 11, 2008
Library Topic
Library Topic: Endangered Species Act

"Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement.

Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct.

The federal agency where he works told him he was on leave pending the results of an investigation into 'integrity issues.' A watchdog group believes it has to do with the 2006 journal article about the bear, but a source familiar with the investigation said late Thursday that placing Monnett on leave had nothing to with scientific integrity or the article."

Becky Bohrer
Associated Press
2011
28
Library Topic
Library Topic: Endangered Species Act
Library Topic
Library Topic: Endangered Species Act

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Commentary or Blog Post

"The Center for Biological Diversity ('CBD') has recently taken the first step toward using the Endangered Species Act ('ESA') to regulate industries accused of contributing to global warming. If CBD is successful, virtually every segment of U.S. industry will become subject to the ESA's standard to insure no harm to ESA-protected species."

National Geographic reports that the Endangered Species Act can sometimes backfire and cites a number of examples of intentional habitat destruction intended to make land inhospitable to endangered species.

Adler, professor of law at Case Western University, remarks on the defects of the Endangered Species Act on the 30th anniversary of its enactment, citing a study in the December 2003 Conservation Biology that reports just as many landowners responded to the listing of Preble's meadow jumping mouse by destroying potential habitat as undertook new conservation efforts.

Increasingly, the theory of global warming is being linked to the destruction of endangered species. There is no arguing that climate change can kill off species; consider the dinosaurs. Consider, too, that the dinosaurs were killed off well before the industrial revolution.

This article explains the potential precedent (and future impacts) of citing global warming as a cause for endangering species that could be set if the Department of the Interior agrees to list the polar bear as a "threatened" species under the ESA.

"You ask a citizen on the street, 'Who runs the Endangered Species Act?' and they would say, 'Well, the Fish and Wildlife Service, I guess.' 'No.' Sansonetti said. 'It is run by a third branch of government. It's the judges that are running ESA right now.'"

This article explains how Western officials want to rewrite federal species law based on their success at saving sage grouse habitat.

The commentary piece describes the success story of the recovery of the Grey Wolf (Timberwolf) in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. These states chose to move away from the federal approach of relying heavily on threatening farmers and property owners with heavy fines and even jail time for protecting their livestock from the great predator. By finding ways to compensate local landowners for...

This U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service news release describes the special rule created for the protection of the polar bear. It precludes activities outside of its protection zone that may lead to the incidental taking of a bear from being regulated under the Endangered Species Act.

Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement. Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct.

Burnett explains that recent pushes to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act are, "...based on flawed forecasting methods and incomplete data."  Sterling explains that these are merely political efforts (U.S. polar bear populations are not declining) to force the Bush administration to take a tougher stance on greenhouse gas emissions.

Chart or Graph

J. Scott Armstrong, ultimately responsible for the graph above, testified to the Senate on how the data about Polar Bears and decreasing ice was selectively presented.

Analysis Report White Paper

In this article, Jonathan Adler looks at four recent studies conducted by various researchers and organizations that provide evidence that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may actually be doing more harm than good to the very wildlife it purports to protect.

This report offers a detailed look at the original intentions of the ESA, the litigation procedures that accompany the act, specific case studies in which the ESA has harmed land owners, the ultimate failure of the Act to protect species, and, finally, concludes with an argument in favor of a "non-punitive, non-regulatory approach" to conservation.

Endangered species protection can be made effective - and honest - only if we recognize eight truths ignored by the failing Endangered Species Act. Among them: letting nature take its course isn't the best way to protect biodiversity; and property owners must be given an interest in protecting sensitive habitat.

"Environmental groups are intensely aware of the power charismatic species have to both capture the imagination of the public and serve as levers to emplace environmental restrictions and regulations."

This study examines private landowners' responses to the listing of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse as threatened under the ESA and finds that listing the mouse "does not appear to have enhanced its survival prospects on private land."

"Unfortunately, the bald eagle will be delisted in name only because despite the species' much hailed recovery the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has cut-and-pasted the Endangered Species Act (ESA) land-use regulations-the 'teeth' that make the law so broadly powerful-to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act)."

"The picture that emerges is that the ESA's role in conserving the bald eagle has been significantly overstated, the ESA may have done more harm than good, and there are a host of factors key to gaining a fuller picture of the eagle's conservation."

In reality, the protection of species at risk has been hampered by the ESA's perverse incentive and lack of prioritization.

Video/Podcast/Media

Schleibe is interviewed about the current status of the polar bear, what steps will be taken to protect it, and the role played by ESA.

Governor Dirk Kempthorne, who later served as Secretary of the Interior during the second Bush term, discusses the triumphs and failures of the ESA, and examines prospects for its future.

Primary Document

Transcript of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.

This is the text of the act, the link was provided via the organization River Network.

This press release from the DOI explains the changes that were put into affect under the Bush Administration in late 2008. As the release states, "These changes are designed to reduce the number of unnecessary consultations under the ESA so that more time and resources can be devoted to the protection of the most vulnerable species. Under the proposed rule, agency actions that could cause an...

How does the ESA impact ranchers and farmers? Sims, a rancher and president of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, testifies about the negative impact of wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone, the loss of private property rights and land values under the ESA, the cost of defending against ESA, and the misuse of the ESA to further special interest goals to land use and development...

This decision, the first Supreme Court interpretation of the Endangered Species Act, demonstrates the power and breadth of the Act. In TVA v. Hill, the Court stopped construction of a virtually completed $100 million federal dam because it would adversely impact the habitat of the snail darter, a three inch, tannish colored fish, despite the fact that Congress continued to fund the...

"The proposition of our author, then, should be reversed, and it should have been said, that they mind so much their own, that they never think enough of others. Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or...

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