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Letter to the Washington Post regarding amendment to the ESA
10/11/05
 The Washington Post finally finds a new entitlement it doesn't like. Perhaps that's because it isn't an entitlement at all.

In "Endangering Species" (October 10, 2005), The Post claims a new mechanism in the House-passed Endangered Species Act reform bill to compensate landowners for losses under the ESA amounts to a "new entitlement program."

It doesn't. It only requires the federal government to pay for what it takes for public use. This has always been a constitutional right.

That's just one of many factual errors in the column.

It asserts that the bill would allow pesticide use that once nearly wiped out the bald eagle. The bald eagle was threatened with extinction as early as 1921, long before widespread use of pesticides such as DDT. Between 1917 and 1953, more than 100,000 of the birds were killed in Alaska out of fear that they would deplete salmon stocks. Furthermore, DDT was banned in 1978 and remains banned, despite The Post's implication to the contrary.

The article also notes that the reform bill would permit landowners to "collect payment repeatedly for the same property." This is very misleading. The bill permits multiple compensation claims because landowners don't always lose all their property value in one fell swoop. The government shouldn't be forced to pay for 100% of a property if it takes only 25% of it, nor should a property owner be forced to settle for 25% of their property's value when they must give up 100% of it.

This is a simple issue of fairness.

David A. Ridenour
Vice President
The National Center for Public
Policy Research
501 Capitol Court, NE #200
Washington, DC 20002
T: 202-543-4110
Email: Dridenour@nationalcenter.org
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