Pacific Legal Foundation: thinking about the ESA, but not always clearly.
Conservationists and environmentalists may not agree with them, but the Pacific Legal Foundation continues to be an intellectual force on matters related to the Endangered Species Act. Too bad they sometimes squander their credibility.
According to a press release issued earlier today, PLF Vice President M. David Stirling has released a new book: Green Gone Wild - Elevating Nature Above Human Rights. Some of us, this author included, might believe that human rights need to co-exist with nature, and indeed, that human health depends upon nature. But from Stirling's point of view, Green Gone Wild is about "the real story" behind and the harsh impact of modern environmentalism. The 250-page book covers three main topic areas: "From Conservation to Exclusion, from DDT to ESA"; "The Endangered Species Act of 1973"; and "The ESA’s Human Misery Index." In addition, Stirling includes a final section summarizing his conclusions and offering practical and realistic recommendations on how to fix a broken ESA.
Sadly, even assuming that the book offers some rational ideas on ESA reform, they are at risk of being lost amidst the rhetoric and marketing tactics. Visitors to the book's webpage ad, hosted by PLF, are greeted by a quote from the book, read by the typically deep-voiced narrator: "The Endangered Species Act is being used to take people's property." OK, bad enough, but not all that unusual in the rhetorical wars over the ESA. But the next sentence -- declared a "frightening statement" by the narrator -- is unfortunate: "The E.S.A. is more powerful than the U.S. Constitution."
Last time I checked, the ESA was codified at 16 U.S.C. §1531, and was subordinate to and adopted in accordance with the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3. "The Congress shall have power . . . To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." And, let's not forget, numerous courts have upheld the ESA as consistent with that constitutional clause. See ESA blawg on "ESA Constitutionality," (9/1/2007).