ESA Reform Needed: Chicken Little Not Endangered by Falling Sky

On October 1, 1992, H. Ross Perot announced his first campaign for president. Feel old yet?

Did you also know that October 1, 1992 is same day the Endangered Species Act (ESA) lost its authorization for funding. If didn’t realize this, it’s not because your age is affecting your memory. Despite this deadline for authorization expiring almost 26 years ago, Congress has continued to put money into the outdated regulations without any pause.

On a recent edition of the Heartland Institute’s daily podcast, National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith discussed current proposals to reform the ESA that are under consideration at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. R.J., the founding father of the free-market environmentalism, talked with host H. Sterling Burnett about how so many of the early environmental regulations were enacted with a zeal for protection that gave government a heavy hand over what could occur on both public and private land.

Even though so much time has passed, lessons learned and innovations introduced that can revolutionize and improve ESA-related regulation, the greens appear ready to do whatever it takes to keep an essentially rogue ESA free of reforms that could bring it into the 21stcentury and give is a necessary respect for private conservation, private property and free enterprise.

As R.J. pointed out at the outset of the interview:

That had passed all during this wave of hysteria when everybody was jumping on board environmental legislation. Where everyone was trying to the greener that the other person… We’ve now had problems with that for 45 years.

While Burnett gave his own assessment that the current reforms are “technical changes” that “tinker around the edges” of the ESA’s real regulatory muscle, R.J. explained that even these meager reforms are opposed by a zealous environmental lobby that wants no change whatsoever:

This doesn’t amount to anything in the way of fundamental reform. It is simply some internal regulatory changes. Some of them are very important, but – basically – it doesn’t make the major changes, any major changes, in the Endangered Species Act.

Noting that any change is unwelcome change to the greens, R.J. continued:

This has been the policy of the green movement from day one. This is why they’ve been so successful. They always cry wolf. If you attempt to even move a comma in a section within the Endangered Species Act, they’ll cry that the Endangered Species Act is being gutted. That it’s going to be destroyed. That the bald eagle is going to go extinct. The gray whales will disappear. Whatever.

And, in an era when people are more mindful of the problem of “fake news,” R.J. points out how the establishment media seems more than happy to help sound the false alarm bells rung by the environmental establishment:

I mean, these were all the headlines that came out. I mean, the New York Times lead piece on the proposed regulatory changes – and these changes haven’t taken place yet, they’ve simply been proposed – [said] the law that saved the bald eagle could be vastly reworked. And the next day, PBS – their “On Point” program – was headed up “Are you with the President of the bald eagle?”

This is the kind of hyperbole and so on that the greens have always used.

To listen to the entirety of R.J. Smith’s interview, click the YouTube link above.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.