Dollars, sense, and the Endangered Species Act
Yes, its an important and controversial law. But Noah Greenwald says we have "60 days to save the ESA" on The Stump, citing the March 11 passage of HR 1105 Omnibus Appropriations Bill giving Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar 60-days to permanently revoke these regulations. Hyperbole? The press release from the House Republicans on the Committee on Natural Resources was equally remarkable. Despite the widespread characterization of these last-minute ESA changes as Bush administration "midnight regulations," see Washington Post, and despite the huge volumes of public comments that were largely ignored, see L.A. Times, some congressman suggested that the law would "allow the Obama Administration to change rules without any public notice or public comment period, and threatens efforts to create new jobs in an already strapped economy."
Polarizing policy considerations aside, some people are starting to ask questions about the dollars associated with the Endangered Species Act. The Heritage Foundation recently pondered the history of the ESA under the heading of More Economic Harm Than Environmental Good, but when Carol Vinzant, in WalletPop, asked how much does the endangered species act cost, she reached a different conclusion, noting that "the 2009 budget for the Endangered Species Act was $146 billion. Which would you rather spend the money on: all the endangered species in the country, or just 1/100th of the $163 billion we've invested in AIG?" Escaping conventional thinking, Gary Francione even ridiculed citizen suits on Opposing Views, concluding that the dollars spent on litigation opposing circus elephants would be better spent "decreasing the demand for such spectacles through creative, nonviolent abolitionist education."
Speaking of cost-benefit analysis: in the U.S. District Court in Oregon, Judge Redden continues to ask tough questions about whether hydroelectric power generating dams, and endangered salmon populations, really can coexist. See, 2017 is just around the corner, by Paul Develder on High Country News. Litigants in the ongoing Arizona case involving jaguars and the completed D.C. case involving Ringling Bros. elephants, however, certainly expect rulings in their cases much sooner than 2017. And thanks to a burst of complaints, and notices of intent to sue, other U.S. District Court judges can soon look forward to lawsuits related to prairie dogs, , sea turtles, northern spotted owls, and the amargosa toad.