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 McClosky's ESA vs. Pombo's TESRA: the facts speak for themselves

By Tom Randall
Date: January 25, 2006
Issue:   Seventy-eight year old maverick Republican Pete McCloskey has decided to return to politics after a 20 year absence to challenge Congressman Richard Pombo in the Republican primary in California's 11th district - a district in which McCloskey does not live.
While McCloskey offers several reasons for opposing Pombo, who chairs the US. House Committee on Resources, we suspect the driving force behind what would appear to be a futile campaign is Pombo's exposure of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (which McCloskey co-authored) to be useless in recovering threatened and endangered species.

In fact, since the ESA was passed more than three decades ago, nearly 1300 species have been listed as threatened or endangered but only 10 species have recovered sufficiently to be delisted.  And, there is little evidence that ESA made any significant contribution to the recovery of these few. 
As a result, Pombo introduced the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (TESRA), which was passed with a bipartisan majority in the House, to replace the ESA with measures that would actually aid in the recovery of species while respecting individual rights and eliciting local input and involvement.
Here are important comparisons between McCloskey's ESA and Pombo's TESRA:
Pombo's TESRA: Scientifically developed, peer-reviewed recovery plans required when a species is listed as threatened or endangered.

McCloskey's ESA: Recovery plans not required. Critical habitat designations are required even though, in many cases, habitat is not an issue in the recovery of a species, just as it was not an issue in the cases of the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle, two species whose recovery was not significantly aided by the ESA.
Pombo's TESRA: Provides incentives for private property owners to participate in voluntary conservation plans that aid in species recovery.  This is an important part of species recovery since the majority of threatened and endangered species live on private property.

McCloskey's ESA: No incentives for landowners included.
Pombo's TESRA: When private landowners lose all or some of the use of their property for the protection of a species, they are given a one-time compensation for that loss.  This places the economic burden of recovering a species on the whole society, not just on the individual on whose land the species lives.

McCloskey's ESA: No compensation for private landowners.  The use of the land is simply taken in a process that is simpler, easier and less subject to judicial review than even the eminent domain cases which have so troubled those across the political spectrum in recent months.
Pombo's TESRA: Local entities and state governments are invited to participate in the process of species recovery.

McCloskey's ESA: All decisions are made arbitrarily at the federal level.

Discussion: Many of our environmental laws have worked well because they have been revisited and modernized by Congress every few years.  McCloskey's ESA has not seen meaningful updating since it was first enacted over thirty years ago.  It is still based on old thinking and old science.  Pombo's TESRA provides the badly needed updating and modernization that is long overdue.  Unless he has some motive other than the recovery of threatened and endangered species, it is hard to see why McCloskey wouldn't endorse Pombo's improvements in how we recover our most vulnerable species.
Contact: Tom Randall
Winningreen LLC
e-mail: trandall@winningreen.com

Action Items:

-----1.  Call both your Senators to urge them to pass legislation updating and modernizing the Endangered Species Act. Urge them to use the Pombo bill as the model for Senate legislation.   Any Senator may be called at (202) 224-3121.

-----2.  Call Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) to thank him for his great leadership in updating the Endangered Species Act.  His number is  (202) 225-1947.

-----3.  Call at least three friends to urge them to call your Senators supporting updating the Endangered Species Act and using the House Pombo Bill as the model for new Senate legislation.




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