February 1, 2011

Federal funding for a beetle that doesn't need it: your taxpayer dollars at work (Introduction)

By Federal funding for a beetle that doesn't need it: your taxpayer dollars at work (Introduction)

Author: Brandon Middleton

A key issue for policy makers in Washington D.C. these days is how to control and reduce federal spending.  One noteworthy item was President Obama's recent order for federal agencies to conduct a "systematic review of existing regulations" and make "a concerted effort to banish red tape" in order to "promote economic growth and to repair [the administration's] fractured relations with the business community."

Perhaps there is no greater example of federal agency waste than the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's regulation of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, aka the VELB.  The Service designated the VELB as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1980, which in turn led to substantial private property restrictions in Sacramento as well as flood control districts in the Central Valley having to spend millions of dollars on environmental mitigation efforts instead of actual flood control projects. VELB

But in 2006, biologists working at the Service recognized that the beetle had recovered and recommended that the agency take the VELB off the list of federally protected species.  Five years later, however, the VELB remains unnecessarily listed as a threatened species, while federal and state officials throw money at the species as if it has not recovered.  Americans and private property owners are forced to foot the bill, with nothing to show for it.

This week I will be highlighting the real-world implications and consequences of the Service's protection of a beetle that no longer requires protection.  PLF represents many individuals and entities who are tired of the Service's needless VELB regulations, and we have demanded that the Service delist the VELB on their behalf.

In the post immediately below this one, I discuss the situation faced by PLF client Bob Slobe and his North Sacramento Land Company.  Bob owns a parcel of land in Sacramento that he has wanted to develop for years, yet he has not been able to do so because the land is designated as critical habitat for the VELB.

But while the Service restricts Slobe's private property rights, the agency and other regulators turn a blind eye towards vagrants and squatters who not only have destroyed protected elderberry bushes, but have turned what used to be a gem of a public park in Sacramento into a complete environmental mess.  Check out the post below for more.

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