October 7, 2009

The Endangered Species Act and the importance of Sean Hannity

By The Endangered Species Act and the importance of Sean Hannity

Author: Brandon Middleton

Judging by the reaction of some environmentalists, you might think that Sean Hannity's visit to the Central Valley last month was the beginning of the end. According to Patriot Daily, Hannity's appearance was simply an attempt to "scare and divide Americans." To Dan Bacher (via Aquafornia), the thousands that attended Hannity's Fox News segment were nothing more than paid-off "astroturfers," while David Fiderer similarly suggested that they were just a bunch of "teabagging flunkies."  Nevermind that the crowd actually consisted of families, small business owners, and concerned citizens, in addition to the farmers and workers that were there because there really isn't anywhere else to go at this point.

Clearly, Hannity touched a nerve. But why all the disdain for his bringing to light a crisis of which few outside the Valley are aware?

I think it has to do with the fact that Hannity had the audacity to take on the sacred cow that is the Endangered Species Act. The ESA is an incredibly powerful statute, and yet few Americans would ever question its merit because, after all, who could be against protection for endangered species?

The nation as a whole rarely gets to see the true colors of the ESA, so when someone like Sean Hannity speaks up and takes on the cause of the Central Valley, it gets labeled as a

right wing campaign to intimidate [environmental groups] from speaking up in support of environmental protection or the public good.  They may spend millions of dollars on impressive media campaigns and only tell one side of the story, but they won't stop us from exercising our First Amendment rights and from protecting the environment and fishing and farming jobs that depend on environmental laws.

And so, apparently, the American public has been overwhelmed with the message that the Endangered Species Act is inherently flawed and is fully aware of the draconian consequences of this law.

I beg to differ.  For those who live east of the Rocky Mountains, ask yourself when is the last time you heard someone challenge or oppose the Endangered Species Act. If you can remember an impressive media campaign that really led you to wonder whether the ESA is a sound law, I suspect you will be part of a very small minority.

If there is a story that has too often been neglected, it is this: the Endangered Species Act is a law that puts species ahead of people (don't take my word for it; read the Supreme Court's 1978 decision, TVA v. Hill, which declared that the ESA requires species protection "whatever the cost") and is made worse by overzealous and unnecessary federal enforcement, as in the case of the delta smelt.

That is why commentators like Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin are so important.  Without their spotlights on the Valley and the Endangered Species Act, how else would this crisis get the national attention it deserves?

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