NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 10, 2005

California Congressman Richard Pombo's reform of the Endangered Species Act would put the focus on recovery while also giving local communities an incentive to cooperate with federal rules. More than 90 percent of all endangered species have habitats on private property. Yet under current law, landowners unlucky enough to discover such a critter, could lose the use of their land and face crippling regulations, costs and uncertainty, explains the Wall Street Journal.

Pombo's bill would make the following changes:

  • Property owners who discover they host an endanger species could apply to the Interior Department for permission to use their land for private purposes; if they do not receive an answer within 180 days, they can proceed.
  • If the Interior insists on certain habitat protections, landowners would then be entitled to conservation grants; and if the government forbids land use, owners would be compensated.
  • The current law allows decisions based on "best available" science, where flimsy standards that have led to serious errors; the new bill emphasizes peer-reviewed studies and empirical data.
  • Unlike the current focus on "critical habitat," where species listings have rules setting thousands of acres off limits, the Pombo bill takes the focus off acreage and puts it on real recovery plans, requiring every species listing be accompanied by a concrete strategy.

Source: Editorial, "Re-Origin of the Species (Act)," Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2005.

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