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by Jim Beers 11/14/04

As the Lame Duck session of Congress convenes and the rare departing
incumbent Congressman bids adieu to colleagues, thoughts of other endangered
and threatened things come to mind.  This coming week and again in winter
there are meetings being held to discuss reforming the Endangered Species
Act.  As you would expect, the environmental and animal rights organizations
will accuse all that discuss reforms of hastening the demise of the planet
and lining the pockets of rich and sinister forces up to the moment of such

Reformers for their part will be of two sorts.  There will be the "bomb
throwers" that will represent those harmed by the Act and therefore
advocates of burying the Act with nuclear waste in concrete deep in some
subterranean mountain foundation.  Then there will be the enlightened and
"practical" folks that will toy with marginal aspects of the Act.  Terms
such as "making the Act work" and "simplifying the process" will be mixed
with "sound science" and "peer review" to make the whole affair appear
well-thought-out by knowledgeable and wise persons.  Some initial
observations and a few simple suggestions at this point might be worthwhile.

The current situation, more than any other period in the past decade, gives
us a ray of hope that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) might be changed
significantly to reverse the widespread harm that it has caused and
continues to generate.  A practical President with proven common sense has
been reelected and therefore has no need to calculate about how an action
may affect him in four years.  The current political appointees in the
Departments of the Interior and Agriculture are known entities.  The green
appointees who will oppose and undercut reforms are known to the radical
organizations and the bureaucrats that will work with them to resist any
changes other than "more" of everything.  Those appointees that will support
reforms, the majority at the moment, are likewise known to the reformers.

In Congress a similar picture has emerged.  The House and the Senate can
only be said to have increased the membership of Representatives and
Senators open to reforms.  The two key Committees have bold and
knowledgeable Chairmen known to be supportive of reforms.  Senator Inhofe,
Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has long
championed the combination of our American form of government with an
effective provision for a diverse and productive environment.

Representative Pombo, Chairman of the House Resources Committee, has a
proven record of trying to eliminate the growing abuses that the Endangered
Species Act generates.  His current efforts to assure that hundreds of
millions of dollars in excise taxes are both collected and then disbursed to
State fish and wildlife agencies are evidence of his commitment.  For his
efforts in this arena, powerful business interests, Washington bureaucrats,
and self-serving Washington lobby groups plan to either bypass him or cause
him political trouble next year as they scheme to undo the reforms initiated
five years ago.  Today, Washington bureaucrats and their "partners" scheme
to keep more of the money in Washington for their use rather than disbursing
it to the State agencies as the law states for on-the-ground improvements
for hunters, fishermen, trappers, and other outdoor recreationists and rural

As reform proposals come up, I suggest you wave your hand in front of your
face.  Like a smoky campfire, you can't see the fire and what you must do to
stop the smoke unless you move the smoke away so you can see the fire.  THE
problem with the ESA isn't the "process" or the "science", those are only
symptoms; THE problem is that it is a socialist process superimposed on a
republican form of government.  Like the imposition of the Zimbabwe form of
property ownership or the Chinese form of business, the imposition of an
open-ended form of nature worship that trumps all other considerations and
is administered by central government bureaucrats can only lead to disaster
in a society like ours based on Constitutional rights and State
jurisdictions over daily life.

Accepting the fact that we signed a UN "Convention" concerning endangered
species does not mean that we "had" to or "should" change our form of
government or incrementally eliminate property rights or state rights
regarding not only plants and animals but also public land management,
energy development, or a whole host of other important aspects of our
national life.  This UN "Convention" should be implemented in the US within
the framework of our system of government that has proven to be the best
yet-devised by man.  The ESA is currently eroding our system of government.

This poisonous model is spreading and, if not checked, may destroy our form
of government for good.  Current international efforts to create a similar
UN "Convention" on small arms is intended to eliminate the 2nd Amendment and
make gun rights, like property rights where an Endangered Species occurs, a
gift or loss at the whim of government .  Likewise, Washington bureaucrats
and their extremist "partners" are using this model to obtain Federal
Invasive Species authority to initiate a Federal mandate of unlimited
proportions to "restore Native Ecosystems."   For these and many other
reasons, the ESA must be made to conform with our governmental system.
Additionally, successful reforms will provide applicable models to
similarly-necessary reforms of other such laws like the Animal Welfare Act
and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Whenever the topic of ESA reform comes up, here are a few things to keep in

1.)    Federal proclamations of "Endangered" or "Threatened" should be
absolutely limited to Species (not subspecies or any smaller subdivision)
that are in trouble worldwide. A Distinct Population Segment of mice or
local lynx populations when worldwide populations are numerous and
widespread should never be of concern above the level of State governments
and the voters of each individual State.

2.)    Federal or national interest in any plant or animal, whether based on
the UN "Convention" requirements or simply an interest of national
interests, should recognize State jurisdiction except where a species is
named on a genuine and enforceable treaty between the US and a sovereign
nation.  This means that where the Federal government wants to protect
ground squirrels or sage grouse or some plant they should REQUEST that the
State do certain things that the Federal government is willing to PAY for.
The decision to do so or not remains with the State. The ESA should not be a
vehicle for powerful groups or bureaucrats to blithely rob States of their
authority any more than it should be a vehicle for Iowans (who benefit from
the absence of free-ranging buffalo) to tell Idahoans that they must
tolerate wolves.

3.)    When State jurisdiction is restored, issues such as Taking Without
Compensation and Taking (by government) Not For a "Public Use" become moot.
If they were to reassert themselves, it would have to be at the State level
where it is far more amenable to judicial erasure or voter response than
where it is currently conducted at the Federal level.

Restoring State Constitutional authority over plants and animals (not named
on international treaties) and making Endangered and Threatened species
actions voluntary and PAID for by listing entities does several things.  It
puts a brake on the egregious misuse of the listing authority by limiting it
to SPECIES in trouble worldwide and requiring that all necessary actions
(agreed to by the concerned State) are PAID for by either the Federal
government or national organizations.  Such a straightforward (and American)
approach would minimize the perversion of academic "science" and the
influence of extremist organizations by narrowing the loose money (reduced
listing "targets") and eliminating the potential harms from the listing of
any and every plant stand or animal flock located where the latest
development, road, or activity is targeted for closure.

If there is any complaint from "international" quarters, let them explain
why we, more than any other nation, list jumping mice and willows with
abandon and others only grudgingly accept such international designations
and then ignore them without consequence.

Competing with others economically is a tough business in the modern world.
Changing challenges whether from Chinese or Indian businesses or European
subsidies requires hard work and minimal waste on the part of all Americans.
When something makes us keep much-needed oil and gas in the ground; when it
makes us waste billions of board feet of timber, wood products, and wood
energy; when it makes us close public lands and roads; when it destroys our
rural communities and raises the prices of commodities like beef and grain;
when it destroys hunting and fishing industries by diminishing the fish and
game; and when it provides a model to destroy the very fabric of the
freedoms and liberties that have made this country great: it is time to
either change it or get rid of it.

More than at any other time in the history of man, we have the knowledge and
experience to manage our environment and live free and productive lives as
we develop energy and build homes and raise families.  If we cannot do this
regarding plant and animal SPECIES in need of help now, we never can.  If we
cannot do this within the State/Federal system of government that has made
us the envy of the world, it cannot be done.  Dictators, Kings, Chairmen,
and Tin-Pot "Presidents" and their mandates always wind up in the dustbin of
history.  What sensible person believes that this ESA-mandate system isn't
doing the same to us?  The time for reform is now and only if it is "real"
is there any reason to expect that it will both help plants and animals and
preserve the American way of life.

Jim Beers
14 November 2004





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