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The bureaucracy will have to come up with another pretext for harassing businesses

Trump proposes to make Endangered Species Act less onerous; usual suspects freaking out


By —— Bio and Archives--July 20, 2018

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Trump proposes to make Endangered Species Act less onerous; usual suspects freaking out
The Endangered Species Act is supposed to protect species in nature from becoming extinct, but it’s tended to threaten the extinction of American businesses when used by a blunt force instrument in the hands of the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

A favorite game of federal regulators has long been to claim that various developments or business explorations threaten any number of “endangered” species. And there are a lot of those. More than 700 species are listed as “endangered,” which gives bureaucrats lots of options when coming up with excuses for harassing business.

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But the most business-friendly president since at least Ronald Reagan has no interest in using the federal bureaucracy in that way, and he’s proposing changes to the administration of the act that should have happened decades ago.

The reaction to that is pretty much what you would probably expect it to be:

The proposed changes include potential limits on the designation of “critical habitat” for imperiled plants and animals; an end to a regulatory provision that gives threatened plants and animals the same protections as species that are considered more endangered; and streamlining inter-agency consultations when federal government actions could jeopardize a species.

Wildlife advocates and Democratic lawmakers said such moves would speed extinctions in the name of furthering the administration’s anti-environment agenda. Species currently under consideration for protections are considered especially at risk, including the North American wolverine and the monarch butterfly, they said.

More than 700 animals and almost 1,000 plants in the U.S. are shielded by the law. Hundreds more are under consideration for protections.

Fewer than 100 species have been taken off the threatened and endangered lists, either because they were deemed recovered or, in at least 10 cases, went extinct.

Keep in mind that the “species” listed as protected are absurdly specific. No one is concerned, for example, that turtles will disappear from the face of the Earth. But the Hawksbill turtle? Well he is supposedly “critically endangered,” and for some reason all economic progress must stop if it heightens the risk that we will one day have to live in a world with only the other six varieties of turtles.

As for those species that are merely “threatened,” that’s an awfully subjective category, and bureaucrats are not inclined to ever remove a species from that list because a) no one can make them; and b) they’d be limiting their own regulatory power if they did.

And that’s really what the Endangered Species Act is really all about. No one wants tigers or brown bears to disappear, but we can protect these creatures from extinction without the regulatory abuses that are perpetrated in the name of endangered species. No species is going to become extinct because a mall is built or an oil well is drilled, but some might if the nation that’s supposed to be protecting them can’t grow its economy.

The bureaucracy will have to come up with another pretext for harassing businesses. I expect they will be their usual resourceful selves.


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