Unsung and unappreciated heroes of Earth Day

April 22, 2013 | By ROB RIVETT

Balance, reason, science, and common sense. These pillars of successful environmental policy are far more powerful — and eminently more effective than heavy-handed government. And yet, these five words are sorely missing in how regulators and activist groups view responsible protection of our nation’s environment.

People, primarily millions of private land owners in America, are often relegated to the role of “villain” and the objects of onerous and restrictive government regulations. Farmers, ranchers, foresters and energy explorers — on whom 315 million Americans depend for high-quality, affordable home-grown food, fiber, forest products and energy are reviled instead of being revered. On Earth Day, and every other day, we should celebrate their contributions! They’re the true heroes of environmental protection and stewardship.

Government bureaucracies created decades ago to enforce laws like the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act — have transformed into agencies more consumed with power than usefulness. Our water and air are cleaner now than ever before, yet government programs expand and spending goes up and up. In many instances, regulators and activist groups are chasing solutions to problems that no longer exist.

The federal Endangered Species Act — for all of the money that regulators have expended and all of the private land that has been confiscated for “critical habitat,” the ESA has driven a huge wedge between government and the people.

There must be a better way. There is a better way. On this Earth Day 2013, it is important to remember where the real power lies in safeguarding our environment for today and for future generations: in the people.

On this Earth Day, and for the rest of this year, Pacific Legal Foundation examines the Endangered Species Act — which turns 40 this December. We’ve established a special landing page — The ESA at 40 — and devoted considerable resources to highlight some of the best examples of the worst government abuse under this powerful law. And, we highlight PLF’s litigation that seeks to provide what bureaucrats and activists do not  — balance, reason, science, and common sense. Check back frequently for additional updates all year long.

Happy Earth Day.