"The Center for Biological Diversity ('CBD') has recently taken the first step toward using the Endangered Species Act ('ESA') to regulate industries accused of contributing to global warming. If CBD is successful, virtually every segment of U.S. industry will become subject to the ESA's standard to insure no harm to ESA-protected species."
Endangered Species Act
President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) into law in 1973. Widely touted as one of the most important and successful environmental laws ever passed, the ESA's purpose is to conserve threatened and endangered plants and animals, and the habitats in which they are found.
Some, however, claim the ESA is ineffective, and even a failure. ESA opponents chiefly argue that private landowners are encouraged to destroy endangered species habitat in order to avoid the ESA's severe restrictions on private land use.
The major components of the ESA include a command that all federal agencies "conserve" listed species and a prohibition against "taking" a listed species by anyone, including both government and private individuals.
A major and recent controversy was the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species. Many environmental groups sought to use the polar bears' listing as a means of regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as they link climate change to the melting of the polar bears' arctic ice habitat. However, former Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and the Bush Administration believed that the ESA was not the proper channel for regulating GHG emissions and made a special rule for the polar bears' listing that precluded emissions regulations being formed around it.
Very recently several changes were made to the ESA by the outgoing Bush Administration that sought to make the ESA function more efficiently, by relieving certain agencies from the need to consult third party scientists on the impacts of certain projects, when those impacts are deemed unquantifiable or insignificant. While this has raised some controversy, it could save taxpayers and landowners billions of dollars in the future, and benefit wildlife by diverting funds from the drawn out and expensive permitting process to the actual management and recovery of endangered species.
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- Quotes on Endangered Species Act
- Video: Endangered Species Act at Thirty
- “Pit Bulls Can’t Fly: Adapting the Endangered Species Act to the Reality of Climate Change”
- Don't List the Polar Bear Under the Endangered Species Act
- Secretary Kempthorne Proposes Narrow Changes to Endangered Species Act Consultation Process
- Video: Saving the Polar Bear or Obama's CO2 Agenda?
- Audio: Discussion of the Listing of the Polar Bear as "Threatened" Under the Endangered Species Act
- Climate Change and the Endangered Species Act: Building Bridges to the No-Analog Future
- Is the Polar Bear Endangered, or Just Conveniently Charismatic?
- Testimony of Kassie Siegel: Climate, Air, and Energy Program Director Center for Biological Diversity