Letter: Text of Letter by 85 Groups to Senator James Inhofe and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Senator James M. Inhofe Chairman Committee on Environment and Public Works 453 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 Dear Senator Inhofe: The U.S. Supreme Court’s contentious decision in Kelo v. New London has brought the need to protect private property rights to the forefront of America’s civic debate. Citizens from coast-to-coast recognize the vital importance of being secure in the ownership and use of their homes, small businesses and family farms. As you and your colleagues consider proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, we hope you do so with a clear understanding of the crucial role that secure property rights plays in saving threatened and endangered species. As you know, the ESA has failed miserably in its stated purpose: Recovering threatened and endangered species. In the three-decade history of the Act, less than one percent of the species listed as either endangered or threatened have recovered. Failure comes at a steep price under the ESA. Not only have species populations suffered, but the Act has cost billions of dollars and deprived landowners of the use of their land and, often, their savings. The Endangered Species Act has failed not because it isn’t strong enough, expansive enough, or funded enough, but because its incentives are wrong. Today, private landowners live in fear of the ESA. Those who harbor endangered species on their property or merely own land suitable for such species can find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions. To avoid such restrictions and the losses in property values that accompany them, many decide to preemptively “sterilize” their land to keep rare species away. Such preemptive sterilizations benefit no one – least of all the species the ESA was established to protect. By one estimate, up to 90% of all endangered species’ habitat is found on private property. As such, punishing landowners for good stewardship can have extremely negative consequences for endangered and threatened species. This perverse, anti-wildlife, incentive within the ESA would be all-but-eliminated if the Sen. James M. Inhofe Page 2 ESA is brought in line with the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that private property should not be taken for public use without just compensation. Property owners who have their property taken or who are denied the productive use of it due to federal species recovery efforts deserve 100% of fair market value in compensation for losses. If property owners receive this compensation, and are secure in their belief that they can be good environmental stewards without risking (at-times ruinous) financial losses, species will benefit. Also, as a matter of simple fairness, law-abiding American landowners should be able to learn, within a reasonable time, whether a proposed use of their property would run afoul of the Endangered Species Act. Under the current ESA, after landowners apply to the Department of Interior for permission to use their property, they can be forced to wait years for a response – years during which they often are unable to use land they legally own, and on which they pay taxes. This injustice could be prevented by establishing a time limit within which the Department of Interior must issue final decisions. Secure property rights are a fundamental cornerstone of our liberty and are integral to our nation’s prosperity. Happily – if we as a nation would just recognize it – if we honor these fundamental rights in the ESA, endangered species will benefit. So that it will work better for wildlife and people, the Endangered Species Act should be reformed to respect the Constitution. We urge you to keep this in mind as you begin your important work. Sincerely, David A. Ridenour Hon. Edwin Meese, III Hon. Don Hodel Vice President Former U.S. Attorney General Former U.S. Sec. of Interior & Energy National Center for Public Policy Research Reagan Administration Reagan Administration Mark Nichols Sen. Malcolm Wallop J. William Lauderback President Chairman Executive Vice President Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Frontiers of Freedom American Conservative Union Terrence Scanlon Paul M. Weyrich Myron Ebell President National Chairman Director for Intl Policy Capitol Research Center Coalitions for America Competitive Enterprise Institute Phyllis Schlafly John Berthoud Ted Nugent President President Performer, Radio Host & Eagle Forum National Taxpayers Union Board Member of the NRA Lovett C. Peters James L. Martin Carol W. LaGrasse Founding Chairman President President Pioneer Institute for 60 Plus Association Property Rights Foundation of America Public Policy Research Sen. James M. Inhofe Page 3 Niger Innis Donald L. Wildmon H. Sterling Burnett National Spokesman Founder and Chairman Senior Fellow Congress of Racial Equality American Family Association National Center for Policy Analysis Jim Backlin C. Preston Noell, III Katherine Lehman Vice President of Legislative Affairs President President Christian Coalition of America Tradition, Family, Property, Inc. People for the USA Grange Bill Moshofsky Tom Schatz Ambassador Bruce Chapman Vice President, Government Affairs President President Oregonians in Action Citizens Council of CAGW Discovery Institute Michelle Korsmo Karen Kerrigan J. Robert McClure Executive Vice President President and CEO President & CEO Americans for Prosperity Small Business & James Madison Institute Entrepreneurship Council Nancie Marzulla Larry Pratt F. Patricia Callahan President Executive Director President Defenders of Property Rights Gun Owners of America American Assn. of Small Property Owners Scott LaGanga Michael Smith Fred Grau Executive Director Chairman Take Back Pennsylvania Property Rights Alliance Oregon Livestock Producers Assn. Kevin Westfall Lewis K. Uhler Peter Flaherty Director of Govt. Affairs President President Oregon Cattlemen’s Association National Tax Limitation Committee National Legal and Policy Center Harry Messenheimer, Ph.D. Stephen M. Lilienthal Craig Rucker Co-Founder Free Congress Foundation Executive Director Rio Grande Foundation (NM) Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow Sharon Livingston Bruce Colbert Geoff Allen Secretary/Treasurer Executive Director Vice Chair Grant County (OR) Stockgrowers Property Owners Assn. of Pescadero Municipal Advisory Council Riverside County Helen Ferguson Sheila Powers Amy Ridenour Chairperson President Director CA State Grange Environmental Albany County (NY) Farm Bureau Americans for the Preservation of Liberty Affairs Committee Ron Arnold ∗ Bob Williams ∗ Brian Bishop Executive Vice President President Director Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise Evergreen Freedom Foundation Rhode Island WiseUse John Colyandro Dane von Breichenruchardt Drew Johnson Executive Director President President Texas Conservative Coalition U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation Tennessee Center for Policy Research Stephen Stone Ronald Williamson Jim Sims President President Executive Vice President Renew America Great Plains Public Policy Institute Partnership for America Sen. James M. Inhofe Page 4 R. Holt and Jane N. Hogan Sharon Bolton Dave & Marisa Hurwitz Ontario Hardwood Co., Inc. California Land Institute Snowmobile Alliance of Western States Kalama, WA Chris Vargas Matt Bennett Howard Hutchinson Executive Director Executive Director Executive Director The Warrior’s Society Mountain Bike Club Treekeepers.org Coalition of AZ/NM Counties Toni Thayer, Publisher Stephen J. Entin Mary Darling Steve Gessig, Publisher President Principal Owner New Color Country Courier Institute for Research on the Darling Environmental & Surveying Economics of Taxation Dr. Don Racheter Robert B. Carleson Richard Rowland President Chairman President Iowa Association of Scholars American Civil Rights Union Grassroot Institute of Hawaii Greg Blankenship Candace Oathhost John McClaughry Executive Director Chair President Illinois Policy Institute CARE-USA Ethan Allen Institute Mark Mathis Forest Thigpen John Taylor Executive Director President President Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy Mississippi Center for Public Policy Virginia Institute for Public Policy Stephanie A. Whalen Harry A. Harms Michael Coffman President and Director Vice President/Treasurer President Hawaii Agriculture Research Center Rural Resource Alliance (OR) Environmental Perspectives, Inc. Jonathan DuHamel Gerald Hobbs Samuel M. Slom President President President/Executive Director People for the West (Tucson) Public Lands for the People, Inc. Small Business Hawaii Richard Olivastro Preston Drew Brad Box Founder & President Vice President Chairperson Citizens For Change! Citizens Alliance for Property Rights Citizens Action Group II Andrew Quinlan William Greene Gregory M. Cohen, P.E. President President President and CEO Center for Freedom and Prosperity RightMarch.com American Highway Users Alliance Andrew P. Morriss ∗ Steven Mosher Walt Harvey Galen J. Roush Professor President East Oahu Realty (Honolulu, HI) of Business Law & Regulation Population Research Institute Case Western University School of Law Bill Sauble Mike Corn Mike Casabonne President President President The NM Cattle Growers’ Assn. The NM Wool Growers, Inc. The NM Federal Lands Council Individual Signers Trudy K. Thomas Ray Kreig Jeff Jeffredo Murrieta, CA Anchorage, AK Mecca, CA Alexandra H. Mulkern Miriam Susan Krentz & Family Paul J. Snyder, M.D. Mechanicsville, MD Krentz Ranch, Arizona Ontario, OR Sen. James M. Inhofe Page 5 David and Karen Heikkila & Family Krista and Brent Benjamin & Family David Heikkila, Jr. & Family Grand Rapids, MN Grand Rapids, MN Grand Rapids, MN Robert and Kathleen Hayden David, Louise and Henry McAllister Santa Ysabel, CA Grants Pass, OR ∗ For Identification Purposes Only Cc: Sen. Lincoln Chafee Cc. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Cc. Sen. James Jeffords

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