Editorial: Modifications to Endangered Species Act overdue

Canadian lynx (USFWS pix via PERC)

It is about time.

A few weeks ago the Interior Department announced proposals to modify the way it enforces the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to make the law a bit less onerous for private businesses and land owners. The agency is currently accepting comments on its proposals.

One of the proposals is to remove the phrase “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination.” Listings of species as endangered or threatened would still be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.” The change simply allows the public to be informed of potential impacts on the economy.

“Since 1982, Congress has consistently expressed support for informing the public as to the impacts of regulations in subsequent amendments to statutes and executive orders governing the rulemaking process,” the proposal states.

The law currently defines a “threatened species” as “any species which is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” The proposal is to more specifically define what the “foreseeable future” is on a case-by-case basis. Self-styled environmentalists would define the “foreseeable future” as any remote risk at any time in the future.

The proposal seeks to better define “critical habitat.” In the past the federal land agencies have sought to block such things as farming, grazing, logging, recreational uses and mineral exploration on land deemed “critical habitat” for the dusky gopher frog in Louisiana and the Canadian lynx in Colorado, though neither species had been spied in those areas for decades.

The agency further proposes to better define when, why and how a species might be delisted.

The Property and Environment Research Center, which refers to itself as the home of free market environmentalism, reports that currently 1,623 species are listed under the act, but only 39 species have been determined to be recovered since the law passed, while 11 have become extinct.

The environmentalists rage against the modest changes claiming the law has successfully kept 98 percent of listed species from going extinct, while others focus on the fact only 2 percent have been recovered, largely due to the fact enforcement in the past has only been aimed at blocking human endeavors and little or nothing has been done to actually increase the population.

According to an article in PERC’s magazine, Colorado wildlife agencies took it on their own to reintroduce several endangered fish and the Canadian lynx, both successfully.

“The federal government threatened to sue to stop the state’s recovery efforts, claiming that even possession of endangered species — much less raising them in captivity and reintroducing them into the wild — was prohibited without federal permits,” the magazine reported. “And the government did not want to permit our hatchery or any restocking program.”

When the state threatened to hold press conferences exposing opposition to species recovery efforts, the agency backed down rather than be shown to be hypocritical about “protecting” species.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming has a draft bill that would require species recovery plans and give states more leeway in conservation efforts. Democrats are almost universally opposed, apparently preferring to allow nature to take its course, even if that means 98 percent of species remain listed and economic endeavors are blocked in perpetuity.

We support the modest Interior Department changes to the regulatory language, as well as Barrasso’s bill to actually do something about species recovery.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.


21 comments on “Editorial: Modifications to Endangered Species Act overdue

  1. Rincon says:

    “One of the proposals is to remove the phrase “without reference to possible economic or other impacts of such determination.” That does indeed need to be removed, but I’m not sure how to replace it. Unfortunately, Republican administrations are likely to use its removal as an excuse to ignore the Act entirely.

    For proof of this, just look at Scott Pruitt’s action that was recently reversed by the courts. For those of you who rely on Fox News for information, this is probably unfamiliar. It was the 27th story on the Fox News Web page on 8/10/18 under the markets section of the business section – very effectively buried. It now appears to have been substantially removed from the Web. I can only conclude that Fox actually removed their original story, which was relatively unbiased, from the Internet, a very unusual action by a news organization. Other stories about his action in 2017 from Fox are still present. Only a shell of the original 2018 story remains. https://fox2now.com/2018/08/09/court-epa-violated-law-on-harmful-popular-pesticide-orders-ban/
    In case any of you care about it, try searching Pruitt, chlorpyrifos to find information on the topic. This also illustrates why I consider Fox News an unreliable source of information.

    Despite the recommendation of EPA scientists, substantial scientific evidence of brain damage in infants exposed to commonly encountered amounts of Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide sprayed on food crops, and a ban on chlorpyrifos by the Obama Administration, Pruitt reversed the ban 20 days after Dow, the manufacturer, gave a million dollars to the Trump inauguration fund. The courts reversed Pruitt’s decision on 8/10/18.

    Any administration that isn’t concerned about brain damage in infants certainly won’t give a rat’s butt about some damn endangered species. How would we stop them from running roughshod over the Act?

  2. Lt. Robert K. Powell GDO ( ret. ) says:

    Before I comment on the article – nice hat. That being said, you are a bit late to the party, since both parties and the AMA, CDC, FDA, and any other acronym cluster you can imagine has been sucking at the tit of wealth distribution by “another name”.
    in order to legitimately whine about an issue one must first arrive at the “genesis of that particular issue.
    First, money talks, scientists covet. Science is not abstract, unlike Economic desire. A few scientists
    agreeing is like a bridge game at an old folks home.
    The genesis of your discussion is actually about June 26, 1945. From that point on, the united States, and more recently the global citizenry, have been involved in a monstrous mis-direction.
    To illustrate, I post a short slide set for your perusal. There is some historical catchup, and I would hope you understand I am not criticizing you so much as hinting that you expand your view. Slide # 13 is the slide that should give you pause.
    See: http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/28345505

    In conclusion I have no issue with your article. The issue I do take is that you are unaware that you and I, and everyone else,have been manipulated for the last at least 120 years.

    I subscribed to your site, and we can chat again, as your leisure. Remember, slide #13.
    Keep well.

  3. Slide 13 pretty much says it all.

  4. Rincon says:

    So your conclusion is that tens of thousands of scientists from around the world are engaged in a massive conspiracy to take away our freedoms by fraudulent misrepresentation? And that the only heroes that can save us are Fox News and The Heartland Institute? Whew! Hard to argue against that kind of logic!

  5. Steve says:

    Not scientists, they are still researching and have not yet come to a consensus. Only about 40% of them even express an opinion on the subject of AGW. And those are in the minority. On the subject of climate change, 90% of those who express an opinion agree. Climate is undergoing change.

    Not the scientists, Rincon. Politicians. What you cannot seem to see is it’s all about politics. Not science. Climate change is being hyped to scare people into allowing what they would (otherwise) never allow to be done to them.

    This does not mean climate is not changing. Climate is changing, has always been changing and always will change. Trump proves it, people love to be lied to.

  6. Steve says:

    You’ve been swallowing the politics far too long.

  7. Rincon says:

    So you’re claiming that you understand the science behind the issue and that I don’t?

  8. Steve says:

    So your response is to make up stuff and accredit it to me?

    To reiterate;
    You’ve been swallowing the politics far too long.

  9. Rincon says:

    I note there’s no response to my link, which lists almost two hundred Scientific societies that hold the position that Climate Change has been caused by human action. I challenge you to find any major meteorological, climatology, or even general scientific society that holds a position of active skepticism. Go ahead. How hard can it be? After all, you said that scientists haven’t come to a consensus. Ooh, I came close. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists says their membership is divided. Well, at least now you have a fig leaf.

    When you’re proven wrong, please don’t degenerate into throwing around nonspecific and baseless accusations. I think you call it deflection when your opponents do it.

  10. Steve says:


    You’ve been swallowing the politics far too long.

  11. Rincon says:

    Ah, so it’s a massive conspiracy by the world’s scientists. Got it. You can go back to Fox News now.

  12. Steve says:

    “Ah, so it’s a massive conspiracy by the world’s scientists.”

    Again, you take my clear words and make stuff up, then attribute it to me. And, to repeat the repetition, I do not subscribe to cable TV, there is NO FOX and NO MSNBC in my home.

    To reiterate,

    You’ve been swallowing the politics far too long.

  13. Rincon says:

    OK, if you say so. Either way, you refuse to address the listing of nearly 200 Scientific Organizations with only a weak insult in response. I’ll take it as acquiescence.

  14. Steve says:

    Go read every single linked article….I know you will find a great percentage of them do not follow the politics attributed to them.

    AGW is a part of warming, it is not the whole.

    To reiterate,

    You’ve been swallowing the politics far too long.

  15. Rincon says:

    I did and you have not. I searched 80 articles in the scientific literature at the local community college using the term, climate change. None of the articles showed any skepticism, about half said nothing revealing any acceptance or rejection of AGW. The term was merely mentioned. The other half demonstrated an acceptance of likely AGW. It’s quick and easy with a computerized search. I suspect Google Scholar will do as well. I’ll do it again and give you a bibliography if you’ll do the same. We can exchange 5 abstracts at a time. Can you handle it?

    We have made some small degree of progress. Years ago, Conservatives were claiming that scientists were making errors in reading temperatures. They can no longer fool anyone with that. Next, they said global warming was over. That got rammed down their throats as well. Now, without any sign of embarrassment, they say we can’t prove that man is the cause. It’s true. And the police couldn’t prove that OJ killed Nicole. Doing nothing about a quickly warming planet because absolute proof is lacking is like the fire department refusing to come to a reported fire until they get absolute proof. The same problem occurs with both refusals: What if it’s true and you fail to act?

  16. Steve says:

    Climate changes, it always has. Humans, as the top of the food chain, have been around for only about 40,000 years. For any of us to expect we can have significant effect on the climate is outrite hubris.
    Even if every human were eradicated this very instant, the climate would continue to change.

    We have gone down this road before, you know where it goes. Where adaptation is indicated, you want to “mitigate”.

    Mitigation does nothing. The planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas. Get the message, stop buying the politics.

  17. Rincon says:

    The fact that climate changes naturally has zero impact on whether humans are creating changes independently. You have no evidence that the changes we are seeing are natural nor can you know if perhaps the world might have cooled some without our input. The chances that the world would warm even a little by chance alone are only 1 out of 3. The chances of it warming as dramatically as it has are far lower. On what basis can you know that you’re right – that this warming is just all a big coincidence? What? No basis? Now I get it.

    Hubris is thinking we can all do whatever we please and have no effect on the world.

    Scientists’ temperature measurements were claimed to have been in error by Conservatives. The Conservatives were wrong. The Conservatives claimed the warming was over and it returned with a vengeance. Wrong again. 17 of the 18 hottest years in the past century have been in the last 17 years (the other hot one was 1998), and scientists have shown that this degree and speed of warming are highly exceptional. The scientists accurately predicted it. Conservatives, on the other hand, not only couldn’t predict the change in climate, they have no explanation for it nor do they perform research of their own. If they have no explanation for the present changes, then how can they be so sure that the scientists are wrong? They are happy just throwing brickbats from the sidelines. You expect me to take their arguments seriously?

    Your sanguine advice to adapt misses some important points: 1) You are completely dismissing any sort of tipping point, even though several potential ones have been identified. I guess you feel lucky. 2) Rich countries far from the equator may possibly adapt with little trouble, but countries and states closer to the equator are likely losers. Is your plan to just let the chips fall where they may? 3) You appear to feel that any cost of prevention, no matter how small, is unacceptable, but that the very likely cost of millions of ruined properties on the coasts of the world (as just one fraction of the total cost), is just fine. Really? 4) It does not seem to occur to you that prevention of a fraction of the warming, especially if it costs little, is better than preventing none of it at all.

  18. Steve says:

    “Hubris is thinking we can all do whatever we please and have no effect on the world.”

    Except, this is not what I said…again.

    I said, you are swallowing the politics. If the science was “settled” as Obama claimed, then they would stop doing research on the subject and all of their papers would be complete. The IPCC would be done and disbanded in favor of solutions based on the completed research.

    The science is far from settled and you continue to push the politics.

  19. Rincon says:

    Sorry about the quote marks. Those weren’t your words, they’re mine in reply to your remark regarding hubris.

    I get my science from the scientists, not filtered through political commentary. The evidence is compelling enough that only those without thorough knowledge or with an ax to grind would say otherwise. Unfortunately, those who have never studied the evidence, which is a large majority since most of us don’t spend a great deal of time studying this one subject, are stuck following the words of whatever political gurus they follow; hence, our disagreement.

    Since you generally don’t reply to my points and questions, preferring to throw vague insults and complaints that I’m addressing you in some deficient manner, I see no point in continuing this conversation.

    Here, take the last word.

  20. Steve says:

    “I get my science from the scientists, not filtered through political commentary.”

    But this is your link!

    A government claim with zero science to back it up! Every link goes straight to the front page of the org’s not to the proof claimed by California!


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