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Peyton Knight: International Report

Group Calls for End to the Endangered Species Act's "Reign of Terror"

by Peyton Knight
Thursday, June 23, 2005

Washington, D.C.–In a letter to House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), the American Policy Center (APC) and over 50 public policy groups called for an end to the federal government’s unconstitutional practice of taking land and property rights under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Chairman Pombo plans to make reauthorizing the ESA a priority of the current Congress.

"There are some who claim that the Act needs to be ‘strengthened,’ ‘updated,’ or ‘modernized,’" said APC president Tom DeWeese. "How absurd. For three decades this law has done nothing but steal property, destroy economies, shatter livelihoods, cost billions of dollars, and even take lives. The ESA needs to be repealed, not ‘modernized.’"

The letter APC signed notes that "the ESA is a direct affront to the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment," and warns: "Those who don’t understand what’s wrong with the ESA -- its almost unchecked power to coerce law-abiding citizens, regardless of the consequences -- will never know how to fix the law."

The Endangered Species Act has been a remarkable failure since its inception in 1973. According to the House Resources Committee, in its 32-year existence the law has failed to recover over 99% of the roughly 1,300 species it lists as threatened or endangered.

The cost of this failure to Americans has been enormous. For example, when the Spotted Owl was dubiously listed under the ESA in 1990, tens of thousands of Americans lost their jobs and their livelihoods. In 2001, four firefighters in the state of Washington lost their lives due to bureaucratic fumbling over the Act. And all across America, countless property owners have fallen victim to the menace of radicals who use the ESA to pillage property.

"How many more lives must be ruined before Congress finally stops cowering before the radical green lobby?" asked DeWeese. "Congress should not reauthorize the ESA unless complete and total property rights protections are given to landowners."

In a 2003 critique of the ESA, Congressman Pombo wrote: "It is no secret the ESA has been used by extremists to restrict, seize and devalue property rights, as well as halt important government projects. In fact, this is what most ‘green’ obstructionists groups relish most about the Act."

DeWeese charged that the Endangered Species Act has nothing to do with saving species and everything to do with indiscriminately stealing property and ruining the lives of countless Americans.

"The ESA was bad legislation in 1973 and it’s been a bad law for over 30 years," said DeWeese. "It is far past time for Congress to end the ESA’s reign of terror and restore the Fifth Amendment."

Peyton Knight is the Executive Director of the American Policy Center. The Center maintains an Internet site at

© Peyton Knight 2004

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