Species Act Turns 40
This year the Endangered Species Act turns 40.
President Richard Nixon, on December 28, 1973, signed into law one of the
nation’s most powerful
environmental laws. The law vested authority in the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to
enforce a wave of new regulations, and create a new relationship between homo
sapiens and other species.
Soon after its passage, the U.S. Supreme Court
declared it the most comprehensive law ever passed for the protection of
species and that ESA enforcement must occur “whatever the cost.” Federal
officials have used their power under the Act to regulate private property as
if it were public land.
The degree to which the ESA has been successful is a
matter of debate. Of the estimated $3 billion of taxpayer funds necessary
to fund the annual operation of the ESA, less than 1 percent of the species
in North America have been recovered out of more than 1,400 that have been
listed. One undebatable fact is the law has created a flood of
lawsuits, those filed to seek government acts, and those filed to limit them.
Since its founding in 1973 — the same year the
Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted — Pacific Legal Foundation has been
America’s watchdog in the courts to check and reverse government abuse of this
and other environmental laws.
PLF has enough experience with the ESA to know that
a well-intentioned law can completely turn the tables on common sense, sound
science, and the fundamental freedoms of people. PLF believes in
responsible stewardship of our land, water, and air for the benefit of people,
the environment, and the species that inhabit it. The trouble comes when
a law designed to help species harms the people who care for the environment —
including farmers, ranchers, and foresters — those living and working in America’s
The protection of the environment is only one of many
competing and important social values in America. In an orderly society,
no single value can be exalted “whatever the cost.” Environmental laws
can and must be administered so as to safeguard, and not thwart, fundamental
human needs and rights. Therefore, Pacific Legal Foundation has assumed a
leading role in protecting constitutionally established limits on governmental
power and ensuring individual freedom.
Nearly 40 years after its enactment, the Federal
Endangered Species Act remains one of the nation’s most potent threats to our
constitutionally protected property rights. Crafted by the Congress with
the noble goal of saving species from extinction, and helping them to return to
health, the law today has led to controversy and regulatory creep across our
Because Pacific Legal Foundation supports a balanced
approach to environmental regulations — like the ESA, we’re taking the
opportunity in 2013 to examine aspects of the law, with particular emphasis on
past and current cases we’ve litigated.
During the course of the year, this landing page will
feature PLF opinion articles, videos, podcasts, and news and information about
current PLF cases.
Whether you are part of the “regulated community” or just a
concerned citizen who values liberty and a thriving environment, I invite you
to check in regularly on this page to see our latest postings and to give us
Of course, as a nonprofit legal charity, Pacific Legal
your charitable donations.
If you believe, as we do, that in protecting our nation’s environment, our
constitutional rights should not be threatened or
endangered by government agencies and activist groups, I invite you to become a
supporter of PLF’s legal program.
Labels: 40 Years, Endangered Species Act, Environmentalist, ESA, Pacific Legal Foundation, PLF, Rob Rivett, Turns 40