Endangered Species Act Administration Changes Bode Ill For Property Rights

Since 2012, the Obama administration has relaxed requirements of the Endangered Species Act to make designation of “Critical Habitat” easier for the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). This is achieved by changing some definitions and by relaxing scientific standards. This will result in more areas being designated as “Critical Habitat” and impose more restrictions on private property, grazing, and mineral exploration and development.

Details of these changes are discussed in a memorandum by attorney Karen Budd-Falen. Here are the main points of that memo:

Previously “Critical Habitat” was confined to the area where a species was in trouble. Under the new policy, the entire range of the species will now be included, even areas where the species is not in trouble.

“Critical Habitat” will be expanded to include areas where the species does not now exist, but might inhabit that area at some unspecified time in the future. (An example of this is the proposed designation of “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar in large areas of Arizona and New Mexico even though jaguars do not occupy the area.)

Species listing and designation of critical habitat are supposed to be based on the “best scientific and commercial data available.” Now, principles of conservation biology are also included. Budd-Falen notes that many scientists describe conservation biology as “agenda driven” and “goal-oriented” biology.

FWS will no longer publish text or detailed land descriptions of the proposed “Critical Habitat.” They will publish small maps in the Federal Register. This will make it difficult for landowners to determine if their property is included.

FWS is no longer required to consider whether areas should be excluded from “Critical Habitat” based on economic costs and burdens.

Budd-Falen notes that these changes may cause normal operations of a farm or ranch to result in a “take” of an endangered species under the law. Also, as the farmers in California’s Central Valley found out, they were not able to divert water for crop irrigation because it was “needed” for downstream fish in a designated “Critical Habitat.”

Related articles:

The Flaws in the Endangered Species Act

Pygmy owls and property rights

Jaguars and junk science

Endangered species listings based on questionable science and lack of independent review

ESA could halt American energy boom

Rosemont and the Cuckoo scam

 

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3 Comments

  1. Junk science and rewriting history – another example of the ends justifying the means. The environmentalist’s agenda threatens to destroy America.

  2. Our President uses his pen to change definitions in existing legislation, thereby expanding the scope of laws already passed. Duhamel gives this instance but there are others–I learned about one in a book by Peter Schweizer that I am now reviewing. There are probably others. We-the-people must be alert for changes in enforcement activity that signal examples of the President unconstitutionally legislating with phone and pen, just as the current President promised.

  3. Just more of the “Establishment”, Lying, Thieving, Politicians showing that our country is NOT the land of the FREE, except when they want to STEAL our land for FREE……GO TRUMP, GO TRUMP, GO TRUMP.

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