- Anthony Weiner on his current sexting habits: ‘None of your business’
- Producers eye Capitol Hill for latest reality TV hit
- No selfie awareness: Obama, Biden mug for Instagram as Ukraine implodes
- Putin to Snowden: We don’t collect droves of data on everyone like the U.S.
- Clemson football’s new opponent: Atheists upset with player prayer, Bible study
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s re-election launch party will be ‘history in the making,’ brother says
- Louisiana group hits back at Sen. Mary Landrieu campaign ad with ‘Actress Mary’ spot
- Brain surgery victim struggles with Obamacare: ‘It’s scary’
- Pro-Russian forces storm Ukrainian national guard base; 3 killed
- Joe Biden’s first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
Report pegs cost of species protection in billions
The yearly cost of enforcing the Endangered Species Act runs into the billions of dollars, not millions as reported to Congress by government agencies, says an audit released yesterday by property rights groups.
Despite the estimated $3 billion per year spent, the government has little to show for its recovery efforts, says the Property and Environment Research Center, which conducted the study for the Pacific Legal Foundation.
The audit reviewed 19 federal agencies that spend “significant” amounts to comply with the act and found that salaries, operations, maintenance and services associated with enforcing the ESA are not reported to Congress.
For example, the report says the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining reported no “reasonably identifiable” expenditures despite having what the researchers consider millions in ESA-related costs. The report gives no specific examples of these costs.
Also missing from government estimates, says the report, is money spent on protecting species in foreign countries — 517 foreign endangered species and 41 foreign threatened species from African elephants to Corsican swallowtail butterflies. In its budget for next year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting $8.6 million for international wildlife trade and conservation, but does not specify how much would be spent enforcing international laws to protect endangered species.
“The Endangered Species Act (ESA) may be a waste of taxpayer dollars since only a few species benefit from the government’s expenditures. Fifty percent of reported expenditures are for seven species, just 0.6 percent of the ESA list,” the report says.
As of February, 1,260 species were officially threatened or endangered, but only a dozen species have been “recovered” and removed from the list since it was created 30 years ago as part of the government act.
The last report filed by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in December estimates $610 million was spent in 2000, but the study says the actual cost is closer to four times that amount. The FWS administers the Endangered Species Act and maintains the list.
“From 1989 to 2000, the FWS estimates that a little over $3.5 billion of taxpayer dollars was spent on ESA-related activities. We recognize today that the actual cost of protecting species, including private costs as well as government expenditures, may easily reach or exceed that figure per year,” the report says.
Brian Kennedy, spokesman for the House Resources Committee, says the report shows “either a success rate of 0.01 percent, or a failure rate of 99.9 percent” in helping endangered species recover enough to be removed from the list.
The audit reviewed 19 federal agencies that spend “significant” amounts to comply with the act and found that salaries, operations, maintenance and services “clearly” associated with enforcing the ESA are not reported to Congress.
Congress also doesn’t get a report on money spent to protect species in foreign countries — 517 foreign endangered species and 41 foreign threatened species from African elephants to Corsican swallowtail butterflies. In its budget for next year the FWS is requesting $8.6 million for international wildlife trade and conservation, but does not specify how much would be spent enforcing international laws to protect endangered species.
“The government has no idea what the ESA is truly costing, but it does give us an idea of the enormous human costs of ESA regulation — and it’s often devastating,” said Emma T. Suarez, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a Sacramento, Calif.-based organization that defends property owners against endangered species lawsuits.
“People have lost their jobs, businesses, homes, farms and even their lives to protect plants, insects and fish,” she said.
The economic impact of the Endangered Species Act is not reported to Congress. The report says $300 million a year in federal efforts and regulations to protect the habitat of the California gnatcatcher bird also caused a one-year delay on construction of a high school, costing an additional $1 million locally. Farmers in the Klamath Basin of Oregon lost nearly $54 million in crops in 2001 when irrigation water was shut off to protect the shortnose sucker and coho salmon.
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Removal of military gear limits options for U.S., NATO in Ukraine
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- NAPOLITANO: Hope for the dead and freedom for the living
- CURL: The state of the Union worse than you thought
- PETA officials collide with deer
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers 'more deadly than jihadists'
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
Celebrity deaths in 2014