Stop Land Theft: “Reforming” the Endangered Species Act is Bogus

Posted on Freedom Advocates on September 7th 2005 

Despite what you might be hearing, the reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will not foster respect for private property rights.

The ideology behind the existing ESA and the “new” ESA are the same. Plants and insects are used as an excuse to destroy private property, erode free enterprise and shift the economy to Public/Private Partnerships. The harm to people and to nature will continue to increase with any 30 year reauthorization of the ESA.


• ESA Bill Update from Rachel Thomas
• Letter to Congress – You can sign a nationally circulated letter to Congress
Note: Freedom 21 Santa Cruz does NOT support the landowner subsidy portion
suggested as an alternative in this letter.
• Freedom 21 Santa Cruz Responds: Reject the premise of the ESA

ESA Bill Update from Rachel Thomas

A draft letter has been prepared by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Indications are that Congressman Pombo plans to introduce an ESA bill around mid-September. Pombo and the bill’s sponsors are likely to try to ramrod legislation through Congress. This legislation will not be protective of the people’s rights. The National Center for Public Policy Research (along with other organizations) is voicing citizen’s objections to any new ESA bill. We know the truth regarding the ESA and its reauthorization; help make Congress accountable.

Join in. Sign the letter shown below. Now is the time to spread the word and kill this bill.

Toward Liberty,

Rachel Thomas

Letter to Congress

The Hon. Richard W. Pombo
Chairman, Committee on Resources
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Pombo:

When the Supreme Court declared in its Kelo v. New London decision that governments can forcibly take private property from the politically unconnected and redistribute it to the politically connected, Americans of all stripes and creeds cried foul. Such blatant disregard for property rights and the Fifth Amendment sent shockwaves throughout the nation.

As you know, property rights abuse in this country is nothing new.

For over three decades, the Endangered Species Act has run roughshod over the Fifth Amendment and individual property rights. You correctly stated that the ESA “has become the preeminent law of the land as well as the preeminent burden to property owners.”

We agree.

By almost every objective evaluation the ESA has been a colossal failure. It has cost billions of dollars, ruined countless lives, and stolen endless acres of private property—all of this while failing to recover species. Until the federal government fully recognizes Americans’ constitutional right to private property, this failure will continue unabated.

It is in this regard that we are extremely disappointed to learn that efforts to fix the ESA do not address the Act’s most critical fault.

For instance, offering to only compensate landowners for their losses if federal regulation devalues their property by 50 percent or more is wholly insufficient. This would not fix the ESA, nor would it obey the Fifth Amendment, which states: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

Moreover, such a weak acknowledgement of property rights would still create a perverse incentive for landowners to rid their land of species and habitat for fear of crippling federal regulations and restrictions. Clearly, this is not good for property owners or species.

One solution could be to repeal the current ESA and replace it with a voluntary program in which property owners can engage in species recovery efforts on a term-limited contractual basis with the federal government. Such an approach would eliminate the perverse incentive previously mentioned, and most important, respect the landowner’s constitutional right to his property. An additional alternative might be to exempt private property from the ESA.

Another so-called reform measure to the Act is even more alarming. This is a plan to create an authority within the Endangered Species Act to regulate “invasive species.” Such a provision would be disastrous.

Creating an authority to regulate invasive species would give obstructionists countless more opportunities to devalue property and seize private land. Indeed, such organizations have openly coveted invasive species regulations for some time, and property rights advocates have fought them at every turn.

Invasive species provisions, in any form, must never be included in the ESA.

Property rights are a fundamental cornerstone of our liberty. The Endangered Species Act should respect the Constitution. Until this happens, the Act will continue to be a scourge to property owners and a failure to species.


To sign this letter, simply email you signature to Ryan Balis . If you desire, include your state and organization. Also, you can indicate whether you are a property rights defender, a champion of liberty or how ever else you can make you strongest statement. – Rachel

Freedom 21 Santa Cruz Responds

F21SC supports ideas that reject the “new” Endangered Species Act.

The premise underlying the Endangered Species Act (ESA) hurts all Americans because it reverses the premise of a free society by putting plants and insects before human beings – before our life, liberty and property.

Freedom 21 Santa Cruz supports the ideas in the accompanying letter to Congress except for the provision for a “voluntary” program of payments to landowners. The payment program would continue the harm caused by the ESA, create insider scandals and contribute to an accelerating and dangerous raid on the public treasury. Such a proposal also contributes to the artificial divide between the left and the right. This is because the public is likely to view such an arrangement as a subsidy to “rich” landowners. Landowners who “partner” with government destroy private property.

The natural right to the reasonable use of one’s property is essential for a free society. Mankind’s experience in liberty will not survive much longer if the federal assault on property owners continues. So-called endangered or invasive species must not be used to destroy private property and the individual liberty that private property supports.

The draft reauthorization relies on the “Precautionary Principle” and uses “Adaptive Management” and phony “science” to destroy the unique essence of the American experience – private property. Congress should reject reauthorization.


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