From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Wall Street Journal – Fix The ESA Now

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 
E-mail: alra@landrights.org or alra@governance.net 
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Wall Street Journal – Fix The ESA Now

Call Your Congressman Today

Any Congressman may be called at (202) 225-3121

House Vote  - Wall St Journal On Pombo Endangered Species Effort


Endangering Species

Wall Street Journal, 
July 1, 2005

The aim of the 1973 Endangered Species Act is to recover plants and animals threatened or endangered with extinction. Does it work? Thirty-two years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, it would be nice to know.

So kudos to Representative Richard Pombo, who ordered a comprehensive review of the law from the House Resources Committee, which he chairs. Mr. Pombo has long argued that the species act is broken in a way that not only renders it incapable of conserving plants and animals but also puts unnecessary burdens on private landowners. It turns out he was right.

The House report was compiled almost entirely from official records, including from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which makes it difficult for critics to argue it's a political hit job. Of the nearly 1,300 domestic species on the endangered list, the law has managed to "recover" a grand total of 10. That's a success rate of less than 1%.

Supporters of the law would say that species recovery is slow work that has to be measured over a long period -- say, 100 years. But even the trends don't look good. A mere 36% of listed species are considered stable or improving. And even this 36% is nothing to celebrate, given that in many cases the only reason a species is deemed on the mend is because officials overstated the problem in the first place.

When the plant, Johnston's frankenia, was first listed, it was thought to have dwindled to about 1,500 specimens. Oops, someone miscounted. There are close to nine million, which explains why Fish & Wildlife is now proposing to remove the plant from the endangered list. Of the 10 officially "recovered" species, six were subject to erroneous original data.

These errors have real financial consequences -- in particular for other species recovery. Government resources are finite, and every dollar spent on an erroneous listing is one less that could go to a species in need.

Take the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, which Fish & Wildlife also wants to de-list due to mistaken scientific data. An economic assessment that accompanied the "critical habitat" designation for this perfectly healthy animal estimated taxpayer and private costs would total $79 million to $183 million over 10 years.

Unlike other environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act doesn't require quality, peer-reviewed science in its listings. And since getting species on the list is often the simplest way for environmental groups to pursue other agendas -- such as tying up private land and blocking development -- they churn out dubious studies at the speed of procreating rabbits. Fish & Wildlife currently has 283 species that are candidates for listing -- which would cost $150 million to add. The agency's entire listing budget for fiscal 2004 was $12.1 million.

Another problem is that the law doesn't allow for real priority setting. Call it the Lake Wobegone effect for species. In a statistic that defies logic, more than 92% of listed species have been accorded priorities that put them in the upper half of Fish & Wildlife's priority ranking system -- i.e., they are all a top priority. This makes it impossible to focus on species truly in need.

Mr. Pombo has been trying to get species act reform rolling in the House, but Democrats don't want to amend a law that gives so much power to their green-lobby benefactors. One fix would be for Republicans on the Rules Committee to make appropriations money contingent upon reauthorizing the law, thereby forcing a debate. Mr. Pombo asked for such a ruling a while back, but his colleagues lacked the nerve. So the federal government will continue to enforce a law that costs more than it should and still doesn't protect the truly endangered


*****The House Resources Committee is likely to Vote on modernizing the Endangered Species Act shortly after Tuesday, September 20th.   See the Action Items below.

The current Endangered is well-intentioned but has several serious flaws:   One major one is that it doesn't help recover endangered species.

Since the ESA was first passed into law over 30 years ago, for the purpose of recovering species, only 10 of the over 1300 species listed as endangered or threatened have recovered sufficiently to be delisted.  That's just a one percent success rate.  And even those few recovered for reasons unrelated to the Act.  During that same period, 35 of the listed species were found to be extinct.  Some were extinct even before they were listed.  We can and must do better.	

But we will not succeed if we focus, as many in the media do, on those at the extreme fringes of the ESA issue.  Both those who can't bear to see a word of the Act changed and those who would gut and destroy it foster neither the interests of wildlife or people.

Unlike most of our environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, which have received frequent updating, Congress has not made meaningful updates to the Endangered Species Act in the 31 years since it was signed into law.

So, it's about time we made some commonsense changes to the Act based on lessons learned over the last three decades.

*****Alert -- Alert – Alert

*****Action Items:

Efforts to update and modernize the ESA face possible make-or-break legislative action in Congress shortly after September 20th.  

Things are really moving fast on ESA in Congress in Washington, DC.

It’s important for you to call, fax and e-mail your Representative to let him know you want the Endangered Species Act updated and modernized.  This is the best chance you are going to have, perhaps for decades.

Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 (TESRA)

A bill as been offered by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) Chairman of the House Resources Committee.   As yet, it does not have a bill number.  Refer to it as The Pombo Bill.  The Pombo Bill will go a long way to recognizing the failures of the ESA.  Its language learns from the mistakes of the past so the ESA can be updated and modernized to actually recover species while protecting businesses, families, landowners, Federal land users, communities and more.

Please call, e-mail and fax your Congressman Now!  He could make or break what happens in Congress.  Urge him or her to support Chairman Pombo is his courageous effort.  

*****Any Representative in Congress can be called at (202) 225-3121.  That is the Capitol Switchboard.  Ask for your Representative’s office.  When you call, ask for his or her fax number and e-mail address.  Don’t waste time on US Mail.  The Anthrax mail inspections take so much time that anything you send by mail won’t get there in time.  Write a letter and fax it.

Now is the time for action.  

You have history and the future of thousands of businessmen, landowners and communities in your hands.


You can learn more about American Land Rights or the Endangered Species Act by going to www.landrights.org    In addition, you can also learn about the Save Our Species Alliance and the ESA by going to    www.saveourspeciesalliance.org

Both websites have an easy way to let your Congressman know how you feel.

Please forward this message as widely as you can.  Thank you.

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