14 May 2008 Comment by National Center President Amy Ridenour on Announcement Regarding Listing the Polar Bear Under the Endangered Species Act
The decision to list the polar bear as “threatened” announced today by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne was probably the best that could be expected from a government agency operating under a severely-flawed Endangered Species Act, but it is a regrettable decision nonetheless.
The Secretary’s clear intent to deny environmental organizations the power to regulate the energy use of the American people through Endangered Species Act-related lawsuits is commendable, but it is only through a failure of lawmaking that such a threat to representative government is even possible.
It remains to be seen if the Secretary’s effort to keep the development of climate policies where it belongs — with Congress — will succeed.
Environmental organizations will continue to try to use the Endangered Species Act to impose energy-use restrictions on the American public, but no climate policy should be adopted without the consent of the public as expressed through the votes of their the elected representatives in Congress.
Those politicians who support the effort to impose climate policy without public consent are doing so due to political expediency. The present majority leadership of the House and Senate claim to be persuaded that the theory that human beings are causing significant climate change is correct, yet it is unwilling to push energy-use restrictions through Congress because the public does not support this action. The Congressional leadership is taking the coward’s way out.
The Endangered Species Act was never intended to govern the energy policy of our entire nation. To reduce the threat that it can be used in this way, and for other reasons, the Endangered Species Act must be reformed.
The American public should never allow elected officials to put their political fortunes ahead of the public’s right to be governed by people it elected.
Note: Amy Ridenour is co-author of the paper, “Listing the Polar Bear Under the Endangered Species Act Because of Projected Global Warming Could Harm Bears and Humans Alike,” published by the National Center for Public Policy Research in March 2008 and available via this page.