Calling the Endangered Species Act “broken,” PERC’s Randy Simmons recently issued a call to dramatically revamp the way we protect endangered species. Simmons’ plan revolves around the idea of “environmental federalism” :
Thus, the act should be amended to be an endangered species, not subspecies, or distinct subpopulation segment act. Then, states can decide whether or how to protect subspecies. They can create interstate compacts for subspecies whose range crosses state lines.
Some will object to environmental federalism, claiming states will engage in a race to the bottom in an attempt to promote development. In fact, the opposite tends to be true.
State forests are better managed, both environmentally and economically, than federal forests. Some states have stricter laws than those imposed by the federal government. States have time and place-specific information that allows them to react more quickly and more creatively than federal agencies.”
Simmons also makes the excellent point that the ESA provides precisely the wrong incentives to property owners. Rather than rewarding landowners for habitat conservation, the ESA has created more of an incentive for them to destroy potential habitat to avoid the types of severe restrictions on property use that would follow if a protected species were to eventually make a home there:
. . . .
Rational, normally law-abiding citizens, therefore, often engage in preemptive habitat destruction. If they expect an endangered species may come to their land, they destroy the habitat.”
Read the whole thing. And be sure to check out this piece by Reason’s Michael De Alessi, which explores ESA further and answers the question, “What has the ESA really accomplished in the past three decades?”