February 18, 2009

Hewitt on the Endangered Species Act

By Hewitt on the Endangered Species Act

Hugh Hewitt has had a couple of insightful posts on ESA-related items over the past week. His thoughts should remind Americans of how powerful a weapon the Endangered Species Act is.

Hewitt on the Salt Marsh Harvest mouse, with thoughts on how the Endangered Species Act unfairly targets private property owners: "The ESA has the effect of quarantining land from all use when one of the species it protects inhabits the land. The impact is often devastating and can impoverish or even bankrupt private property owners. The idea of using federal money to actually acquire such properties from such owners, thus spreading the cost of the ESA across the entire country that benefits from it makes a lot of economic sense and would return some fundamental fairness to the system."

On the potential listing of the American pika: "The push to list the American pika is the first step towards forcing all businesses that produce emissions that can be argued to affect the Sierra habitat in which the mammal lives to mitigate for harm done to the pika's habitat."

More on the pika and litigation in general:

[W]ho pays to get the perchlorate out of the ground, who will pay to mitigate for the impacts of global warming on the pika, and should plastics manufacturers get tagged with the alleged costs of the alleged illnesses or disabilities their products have produced? Huge dollars are involved in each area, so the litigation surrounding each of them goes on and on. All of those costs and all of those settlements or jury awards get passed right back to the consumers of goods and services. . . .

The massive costs associated with this approach cannot be quantified, but as the economy struggles to return to real growth, the litigation burden is the unseen hundred-pound pack on every CEO's back. What this economy could do if the tort system and environmental laws were rationalized is amazing to contemplate given what it can do even while carrying those extraordinary costs.

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