Fixing the Endangered Species Act: Protect Bambi or Local Jobs?

Fixing the Endangered Species Act: Protect Bambi or Local Jobs?

You know your government is big when it tells you how to protect fuzzy woodland creatures. Sens. Rand Paul, Dean Heller, and Rep. Mark Amodei are trying to put more limits on big government by introducing the Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act (ESMSDA). Currently, all states must comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regarding the protection of endangered animals and their habitats. The bill being introduced would allow states to individually regulate how to protect endangered species and give them more control over land use.

Let’s be honest, no one really wants to kill off all the endangered animals in America. This bill isn’t trying to murder Bambi; it just wants to give control of animal protection to the states.

“By removing the red tape, state governments will be better equipped to manage, regulate, develop and implement recovery plans for their critical habitats. This bill will better protect endangered species by allowing a more tailored response as implemented by the states,” Sen. Paul said.

The ESA currently oversees more than 2000 animal species, leading to millions of acres of land being labeled as “critical habitat.”

Yet less than one percent of the species are ever removed from the list, Rep. Amodei argued.

As a result, valuable land is tied up for who knows how long. Therein lies the problem: Yes, we need to protect endangered animals but at what cost to local economies? Responsibly developed land leads to more jobs. Is the average American out of work and worrying about how to pay their next electric bill really going to feel that sympathetic towards some rare bird sitting in a tree?

“Bureaucrats in Washington should not be able to lock-up millions of acres of land and devastate entire local economies simply to avoid lawsuits from environmental organizations,” Amodei wrote. “Local governments should determine how best to manage their lands and have the ability to choose recovery plans that work for their state.” (The Hill)

So why not let states decide what to do with their own land? As hard as it tries, the federal government can’t take care of everything, not that we would want such broad oversight.

The Endangered Species Act already has an abysmal success rate, so it is time to give to the states the opportunity to step in where the ESA has largely failed,” said Sen. Heller.

This conflict between whether power should lie with the federal government or with the states is nothing new. No doubt the Endangered Species Act needs an overhaul, but this is just one step. Whether or not it’s the best way is hard to say. What are your thoughts?

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