Author: Brandon Middleton
When the Endangered Species Act was first enacted in 1973, it would have been hard to imagine that this law would eventually find disfavor among significant portions of the American public. After all, who could be against protection of endangered species?
As we approach 2010, however, it becomes more and more evident that there something inherently wrong about the Endangered Species Act — the public still favors protection of endangered species, yet is turned off about the uncompromising nature of the ESA. Whether it's the ESA's failure to incentivize endangered species protection, it's lack of respect for private property rights, or it's shoddy record at actually rehabilitating species, skepticism towards overzealous enforcement of the ESA is well-justified.
On this subject, Sean Paige has a great post on why those in the West think the Endangered Species Act is "synonymous with tyranny." Paige is keenly aware of how powerful the Endangered Species Act really can be: "Discover a new natural gas field in the Rocky Mountain region and in no time flat, almost miraculously, a host of rare plants or animals — all in dire need of protection — will be discovered there. It's the silver bullet that can stop any infrastructure project: any roadway, dam, reservoir, power plant, pipeline." Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the pointer.
For more on the devastation that the Endangered Species Act can create, check out Newsweek's special report, "Valley of the Shadows," particularly this section on the dire situation faced by San Joaquin Valley farmers and laborers. Hugh Hewitt's recent San Francisco Examiner commentary on why California's housing crisis is unlikely to end soon due to laws like the ESA is also a worthwhile read.