Disappointing ESA Developments

The new testimony and announcements by DOI/USFWS regarding coming Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings and changes are most interesting.

First, DOI announced a major change in its barely two-year old critical habitat designation for the Canada Lynx. Critical habitat had been restricted to 2,000 square miles. Now it has been vastly increased to 43,000 square miles.

Recreation industry and timber industry had lobbied hard and testified on lack of need for such a vast critical habitat designation — and thought that common sense had won out. These groups feared that the possible occurrence of the lynx might shut down the Northern Rockies Ecosystem. But the DOI critical habitat change underscores how ephemeral any kind of deal with the Feds is. Regardless of what they promise or sign, as soon as there is Green pressure they can — and seemingly will — instantly overturn everything.

A Greenwire story points out that this will not have any effect on private land — unless of course landowners need “permits on their land.” Can you think of any project for building a home, digging an irrigation ditch or drainage ditch, whatever, that doesn’t require local, county, state or Federal permits?

According to another article in Greenwire today, the Bush administration, looking forward to leaving its Green legacy, announced a huge push to decide on 71 listing proposals during the remaining ten months of 2008 and another 21 for 2009.

USFWS Director Dale Hall, responding to criticism from Greens and media for not having listed more species, stated in Greenwire: “It took us a little bit, but we hope this will get us back on track. We slipped out of the mode.”

What mode? What track? Is there some prize for the administration that lists the most species? Must a certain number of species be listed each year? Maybe fewer species need listing. Maybe much more care needs to be taken in deciding which species to list or which to list first?

The criticism is that George W. Bush has only listed 8 species, while Clinton listed 62 species and George H.W. Bush listed 56 species.

So will the Greens now give the Oscar to George W. Bush? Even William Snape and the Center for Biodiversity praised (lightly) Bush.

Why not simply list every species and get it over with once and for all, since that is the logic of the Greens. One noted Green has I believe proposed listing some 7,000 plants. An all-inclusive uniform listing of all species would save billions of dollars and allow more concentration on recovery plans!