December 20, 2010

How to stop economic development? Just find the right species and use the Endangered Species Act

By How to stop economic development? Just find the right species and use the Endangered Species Act

Author: Brandon Middleton

Here is refreshingly candid insight from the High Country News on how environmentalists view the Endangered Species Act.  According to their viewpoint, species should be listed under the ESA not because they're about to go extinct, but because their listing will stop evil developers and entrepreneurs from creating jobs.

Consider HCN waxing poetic about the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, a threatened species in Colorado (emphasis mine):

Well, maybe it can't leap over a building, but the little rodent can jump a foot and a half up in the air, cover twice that distance horizontally, and swivel its 6-inch-long whip of a tail to change direction mid-flight. Its most supernatural feat, however, is not vaulting over buildings, but stopping them from being built in the first place. The mouse, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, has achieved the seemingly impossible: protecting some areas from sprawl on Colorado's ever-urbanizing Front Range.

Environmentalists have long considered the PMJM — as the mouse is coolly labeled in scientific papers (an acronym that brings to mind a mouse wearing pajamas) — the ticket to conserving riparian areas threatened by those relentless housing developments that march along the eastern flanks of the Rockies.

HCN's belief system is sad, not to mention completely wrong.  The purpose of the ESA is to protect species, not to stop economic development.  But at least HCN honestly expresses why it is pleased that this "super mouse" isn't doing so well.

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