March 15, 2013

Environmental protection in conflict

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney
“Am I a pawn in a political game?”

Earlier this week, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list the kit fox as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act (the fox is already protected under the federal Endangered Species Act).  Interestingly, two of the main factors that CBD cites for the kit fox’s decline are a loss of habitat due to solar and wind energy projects, and disease transmission from gray wolves and Pacific fishers, themselves already (or soon to be) protected species.  This effort strikes me as a great example of CBD’s insensitivity to balance.  The Center wants species protection, but what to do when one protected species harms another?  The Center wants reduced reliance on fossil fuels, but what to do when fossil fuel alternatives have negative environmental impacts?  Perhaps for CBD these conflicts are reconciled by a purportedly consistent ethic to reduce humanity’s impact on the environment, whatever the environmental externalities.

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