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Global Warming and the Endangered Species Act

Thursday, February 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

This story highlights how environmental activists are using the Endangered Species Act to force wide-spread regulation of emissions that contribute to global warming. The push to list the American pika is the first step towards forcing all businesses that produce emissions that can be argued to affect the Sierra habitat in which the mammal lives to mitigate for harm done to the pika’s habitat. From the article:

A third of the pika populations in the mountains of Nevada and Oregon have become extinct in the last century as temperatures warmed. Those that remain in Western states are found 900 feet further upslope. With predictions that U.S. temperatures will rise twice as fast this century as they did over the last 100 years, experts fear the creature could disappear from huge swaths of the American West.

Warm temperatures can literally cause the critters to die of overheating. Climate change also threatens to reduce the insulating winter snowpack they depend on and probably will shorten the foraging season for an animal that weighs just a third of a pound but collects more than 60 pounds of vegetation to survive the winter.

“Global warming has hit home in the lower 48 states, and this is our chance to act,” said Gregory C. Loarie, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm involved in the issue. “If we lose the pika to climate change, we can expect other species to follow.”

Most people have no idea how the ESA works, but it will soon focre widespread regulation of businesses that have no idea that they will soon face enormous regulatory demands on their operations.

Mark Steyn, Gov. Jon Huntsman, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Lileks and Marybeth Hicks

Thursday, February 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Loaded line-up today as I continue to talk with GOP governors about the stimulus package –and to negotiate a relocation package out of CA to anywhere with a law school and a studio.

Plus a first time appearance by Washington Times columnist and author Marybeth Hicks. You are going to enjoy her, and you will enjoy her columns and books. The most recent of the latter is Bringing Up Geeks: How To Protect Your Kid’s Childhood in a Grow-Up-Too-Fast World.

Bringing Up Geeks: How to Protect Your Kid's Childhood in a Grow-Up-Too-Fast World

Marybeth is from Michigan, but she’s a Spartie, not one of the others, and is thus allowed in the studio.

In other news, Duane is deeply, deeply concerned.

A Few Kind Words for the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse

Thursday, February 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

As listeners to the program and readers here know, when I am not broadcasting or teaching, I practice law, primarily in the area of the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and related statutes such as the states’ endangered species laws and the Clean Water Act. I have been doing so for 20 years across the western United States, and follow ESA news closely as a result.

When the Washington Times ran a story on a $30 million dollar appropriation to benefit the Bay Area’s Salt Marsh Harvest mouse, I had to smile. Some endangered or threatened species have friends in high places. Others, like the lowly San Bernadino kangaroo rat or theCalifornia tiger salamander, do not.

But conservatives should make sure their aim is steady before beginning criticism of the grant.

I wrote earlier that some of the stimulus could have wisely spent money on relieving private property owners of the burdens imposed on them by the ESA. The ESA has the effect of quarantining land from all use when one of the species it protects inhabits the land. The impact is often devastating and can impoverish or even bankrupt private property owners. The idea of using federal money to actually acquire such properties from such owners, thus spreading the cost of the ESA across the entire country that benefits from it makes a lot of economic sense and would return some fundamental fairness to the system. I urged such an approach on Oklahoms’s Tom Coburn last week and he actually seemed interested in it.

What isn’t fair, of course, is for one set of landowners burdened by the ESA to win the stimulus lottery –if indeed any of them won at all. Lots of ESA money flows to the community of species activists and the programs they run which often fail to address much less compensate landowners burdened by the Act. Scrutiny of the mouse’s windfall should deepen, but critics should take the time to note that the idea of paying for burdened property rights is a good idea, not a bad one.

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