Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bring management of endangered species back to the states where it belongs

Senators Rand Paul of Kentuky, Mike Lee of Utah, and Dean Heller of Nevada have introduced Senate Bill 1731, entitled the "Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act." A companion bill was also introduced in the House by Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada.

This bill would restrict the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from listing any new species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) without the approval of the governors of any states in which that species resides and also require a joint resolution approving each listing by Congress.

The bill further requires that USFWS compensate landowners for the value of land deemed to have been reduced by the agency's enforcement of the ESA.

It would provide for delisting of species listed by Congressional joint resolution after five years. This is critical due to the intransigence of federal bureaucrats in delisting species that have recovered or that never truly threatened in the first place. (In the case of the Utah prairie dog, there has been absolutely no improvement in the welfare of that species in spite of over 40 years of federal management! Federal management is not working in spite of great expense to taxpayers and property owners. SB.1731 seeks to remedy that situation.)

In addition to giving governors veto power over listing of species that happen to occur in their states, the bill would also allow a governor to take over all management of a listed species as long as that governor determines that the species occurs only in the state. If a governor makes such a determination, the USFWS will be locked out of any management or monitoring of the species. This is essential because intrastate affairs are of no concern to the central government.

While SB.1731 doesn't go far enough to get the central government out of wildlife management -- a role it is not allowed under the US Constitution -- I urge the Whitehouse and Congress to aggressively work for the prompt implementation of this bill because it pushes the protection of wildlife back to the states where it belongs, imposes congressional oversight over federal bureaucrats, and it seeks to protect the property rights of Americans. This bill is 40 years overdue and must be passed.

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