The Danger of ESA "Reform"
"There continues a well-funded, well-orchestrated effort (cloaked by individuals and organizations we've trusted in the past) to deflect all questions, and con grassroots property rights advocates, recreationists, hunting and fishing groups, etc., into supporting whatever bill is introduced from Chairman Pombo..."
September 4, 2005
By Julie Kay Smithson
Pombo, Cushman, et al., would have you believe that "strengthening" the ESA is a good thing.
I believe you care about property rights.
You know that I give my all to this effort to fight for property rights and responsible resource providers.
I simply cannot stand idly by while anyone recommends ESA "reform"!
Please read, if not all, at least the first four items below.
Then consider the comments and letter that follow, and consider making copies of the letter (or send this entire email) to your members, family and friends, encouraging them to sign it and mail it ASAP to Pombo.
The ESA Must be Repealed!
Comments from KL in OR (abbreviated):
"This is very important. The House Resources Committee (HCR) has been working on language for a bill to reauthorize the ESA this year; a bill should come out of committee soon. All indications are it will not be good for private property rights in general, and small landowners in particular. Among other problems...the draft version set to be released July 18th contained provisions that stated:
1) the government would NOT have to pay compensation for takings unless it took at least half of your property.
2) it is time to regulate "invasive species" under the authority of the ESA, while defining "invasive species" so loosely as to include you and me; our livestock; the feed we raise for them; most of the food we produce for ourselves, our communities, our nation, and the world; and least important, most (if not all) of the landscaping around our homes.
3) the Secretary of Interior would have the discretion to treat ANY SPECIES as if they were listed, even when they were not.
How provisions such as these will "reform" the ESA is beyond me. It appears that they will, instead, provide even more power to hurt people and property rights -- and species of all stripes. 
House Resources Committee staff refused to release this draft to property rights advocates, and continues to refuse to do so -- to this day.
The earlier draft was obtainable, but apparently only from the Center for Biological Diversity's website. This is not a federal organization; why would it be privy to such bill language, while the rest of us are left with nothing? This behavior by such a government committee appears to betray an agenda that bodes ill for property rights and people in real America.
There continues a well-funded, well-orchestrated effort (cloaked by individuals and organizations we've trusted in the past) to deflect all questions, and con grassroots property rights advocates, recreationists, hunting and fishing groups, etc., into supporting whatever bill is introduced from Chairman Pombo, because we all know Richard Pombo has led the defense of property rights in Congress for many years..."

Property Rights MUST Come First!





September 4, 2005



Rep. Richard W. Pombo

Chairman, Committee on Resources

1324 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515



Congressman Pombo and House Resources Committee Members:



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 shock waves 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 and unchecked.


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, only compensating landowners for their losses if federal regulation devalues their property by 50 percent or more is wholly insufficient. Do you think property is worth just fifty percent of its value? Can you live with that? Those driving this agenda wouldn't think of living with this in their own lives, with their own property -- why should you be subject to such Draconian property theft?


This "reform" would neither "fix" the ESA, nor would it obey the Fifth Amendment, which clearly 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 strictly 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 additional 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.  ANY "Endangered Species" Act MUST respect the Constitution.  Until this happens, this Act -- or any like it -- will continue to be a scourge to property owners and a failure to species.