The Right Coast

December 29, 2003
Regulatory Failure: The ESA
By Michael Rappaport

Some powerful criticisms of the Endangered Species Act over at the Conspiracy.

Update: More at the Conspiracy on the ESA. Here is an excerpt:
    A Washington Post editorial tries to claim the law is a success, but only succeeds in demonstrating how ESA myth overshadows environmental fact. For instance, the Post writes, "Thanks to the legislation, the American bald eagle, whose near-extinction had become a symbol for environmental degradation, is still flying." Not quite. The primary threat to the bald eagle was the pesticide DDT, which was linked to reproductive problems, specifically egg shell thinning, in several birds species. Yet DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, over twelve months before the ESA was enacted. Other federal laws, such as the Eagle Protection Act, also provided the bald eagle with specific protection against poachers and collectors. Thus it may be fair to credit the federal government with the bald eagle’s recovery, but the ESA was not the tool of this success. (Much the same can be said about the recovery of the peregrine falcon, which the AP celebrates here.) The Post is equally off-base in crediting the ESA with the recovery of species like the American Alligator, and it is simply perverse to credit the ESA for inspiring an international ban on trade in elephant products – a ban that has done more to imperil elephants, by diminishing the value of elephant herds and their habitat – than it has to save them.