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Pushing For Polar Bear Protection/Paralysis

Saturday, May 3, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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The editorialists at the Houston Chronicle want the polar bear listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Note that the writers present no contrary evidence to the case that ice loss is imperiling the bears.

Even more telling is that the editorial doesn’t even hint at the vast impact of the listing in the lower 48. Do you suspect the writers don’t know, or just prefer to keep their readers in the dark?

Polar Bear 101 here.

Polar bear 102 here.

The short version: If the polar bear is listed, every activity that emits a greenhouse gas of any sort in the lower 48 AND which receives a federal permit or requires federal agency action of any sort –even if that permit or action is unrelated to the emission of the gases– those activities will be subject to new review by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the approval may not be forthcoming, will certainly at least be delayed, and will almost certainly come with massive new costs attached.

Thus coastal building programs that require federal flood insurance or Army Corps of Engineers permits, highway construction that gets FHA funding, or joint NASA-private industry initiatives that result in launchings, all these and hundreds of thousands of additional federal permits and actions get gathered in under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

Environmentalist groups have standing to sue to demand the Section 7 process be followed, and they collect attorneys fees when they succeed. It is the full employment act for environmental activists.

Hat tip to the Houston Chronicle for alerting a city so connected to the oil business that its core business was being threatened by a listing push that many believe is not only an abuse of the ESA’s original intent but also unsupported by the facts concerning the ice and the polar bears.

After two decades of practicing ESA law, I am used to clients’ being surprised by the sweeping nature of the Act’s operation once caught up in it by virtue of proximity to a listed bird, buttterfly, rodent or plant, but wait until the clients in Colorado and Louisiana and Florida have to be told they can’t build or proceed because the polar bear’s ice is retreating.

Good for my law practice. Very, very bad for the economy generally and the cost of gas specifically, not to mention construction of all sorts.

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