The federal government is taking public comment on long overdue reform to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and CFACT senior policy analyst Bonner Cohen submitted an official comment on behalf of CFACT.
Bonner concluded that, “taken as a whole, the steps proposed by [Fish & Wildlife Service] and NOAA Fisheries will break some of the bureaucratic logjams that have plagued the ESA from the outset, and begin to give landowners incentives to restore and improve endangered species’ habitat.”
If you judge a public policy by its results, the ESA of 1973 is a flop.
Over 2,000 species have been listed as endangered pursuant to the Act. How many have recovered? Around thirty.
The ESA has, however, been incredibly effective at frustrating and delaying economic activity.
One of the worst examples of ESA abuse happened very recently when the FWS designated 1,544 acres of forested land in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana as critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog. The problem? This land contains no dusky gopher frogs. In fact, the only such frogs known to exist are in neighboring Mississippi. This mistake has devalued the Louisiana property by an estimated $20 million and the matter is now before the Supreme Court.
Protecting nature is important. We can be hopeful that our government will soon do so more intelligently and effectively.