In fact, the bill, which quietly was voted out of committee yesterday, would remove the 1973 Endangered Species Act’s prohibition against killing or injuring endangered species. It would replace the law against killing or injuring members of an endangered species with a law that theoretically would provide for conservation of each species as a whole.
That almost sounds good, except that how do you conserve an endangered species if you allowed the death or injury of its members? "Endangered" means there aren’t many of these creatures left. The bill also would prohibit the government from setting aside "critical habitat" for endangered species. So where are they supposed to live?
Who wrote this bill? Clearly, Pombo proposed H.R. 3824 to help land developers. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wrote the bill. He says it’s all about "landowners’ rights." But I don’t hear the average landowner complaining that he can’t enjoy his back yard because he can’t kill a jaguar or a Hawaiian hawk.
As for the developers, where in the United States has the Endangered Species Act stopped land development? We’ve eaten up more land in the last 30 years than we had in our first 200 years, and a higher percentage of Americans own homes than ever. So where is the developer crisis?
Why the need for short deadlines on government studies of a proposed development’s environmental impact? Some reasonable compromises might be acceptable, but this bill hands everything to developers. And it presumes the environment is not worth protecting. Earth to Pombo: We really do need lots of trees, clean air, wetlands and clean rivers. It’s natural.
Vote under cover. Congressman Pombo, who tried to pass this bill before, hopes to bring it up before the full House early next week. He seems to be calculating that, with the news media fixated on two wars, two hurricanes and two Supreme Court nominations, he can pass this bill without too much attention.
He might be right there, but he’s wrong on this bill. We probably will need the Senate to stop it.