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PLF Exposes Multi-Billion Dollar Endangered Species Act Cover-Up
Billions of dollars spent each year on Endangered Species Act projects never get reported to Congress, according to an audit requested by PLF. Federal regulators have told lawmakers that enforcing the ESA costs taxpayers in the neighborhood of $610 million annually, but the true amount is at least four times higher, reports the PLF study, undertaken by the Montana-based Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).
The study found little to show for those billions in costs. “Only a few species benefit from the government’s expenditures,” it contends. “Fifty percent of reported expenditures are for seven species, just 0.6% of the ESA list.” More than 1,200 species are officially designated as threatened or endangered, but in the 30 years since the ESA went on the books, only a dozen have been “recovered” to the point that they could be removed from the list. That amounts to “either a success rate of 0.01%, or a failure rate of 99.9%,” as a spokesman for the House Resources Committee told the Washington Times, in commenting on the PLF-PERC report.
The audit revealed hidden spending by more than a dozen federal agencies. For instance, millions go for ESA-related work at the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining, but that office has told Congress it made no “reasonably identifiable” ESA expenditures.
Congress also is kept in the dark about sums spent on protecting species in foreign countries—even though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service devotes funds for 517 foreign endangered species and 41 foreign threatened species from African elephants to Corsican swallowtail butterflies.
In sum, the federal government has no idea what the ESA is truly costing American taxpayers, but the PLF-PERC report gives us an idea of the enormous human costs of ESA regulation—and it’s often devastating. While the benefits for plants and animals are dubious, the impact on the human species can be quantified: People have lost their jobs, businesses, homes, farms, and even their lives because of ill-conceived and often unnecessary initiatives supposedly to protect plants, insects and fish.
California Congressman Richard W. Pombo, chair of the House Resources Committee, called the PLF-PERC report “astounding” and proof that the law “is broken.”
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