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Endangered Species Act Reform Project

The Endangered Species Act—motivated by good intentions and inspired by high-minded visions of responsible environmentalism—has proven in practice to be a bad law. As now structured, it cheapens humanity and produces unconscionable results that defy common sense.
Most people would agree, including Pacific Legal Foundation, that saving significant species and protecting the environment are important public policy issues. However, the top responsibilities of government are to protect human life and preserve individual freedom. Those values must never be jeopardized or otherwise denigrated or subordinated to animals, plants or insects. Yet throughout America, peoples’ lives and their livelihoods are jeopardized by the federal bureaucracy’s inflexible regulations and enforcement actions under a harsh law that needs to be questioned—and challenged—on ethical/moral grounds, on constitutional grounds and on common sense grounds.
PLF has established a special program that systematically puts the Endangered Species Act on trial. The program has two key components: litigation and public education.
Attacking “Junk Science”— Before enacting laws and regulations, legislators and regulators must ask whether the science behind the measure justifies the often enormous social and economic costs involved. Unfortunately, environmental policy is often based on politically motivated pressure from environmental activists and federal agencies trying to justify their budgets. The Endangered Species Act is no exception, and PLF is fighting in court to expose the gross misinformation regulators rely on to unfairly restrict the use of private property.
Limiting Federal Authority — The U.S. Constitution’s limits on federal governmental power have not been respected by the Congress. And that abuse has been encouraged by a long line of court decisions that have given the widest possible interpretation to the Constitution’s Commerce Clause which allows Congress to “regulate commerce...among the several states.” As a result, Congress has authorized intrusive regulations that control our daily lives, cradle to grave, in areas only remotely associated with interstate commerce. Overzealous enforcement of the Endangered Species Act is a prime example, and PLF is fighting in court challenging federal authority to regulate purely local species that have no connection to “interstate commerce.”
Demanding Accountability — In the process of designating critical habitat for species listed under the Endangered Species Act, regulators are required to consider the potential economic impacts of their actions. All too often this critically important analysis is given little or no real consideration. Accordingly, PLF is challenging critical habitat designations around the country bringing into question whether the government truly has considered the real economic impact of their actions.
Public Education
Much of the misinformation and half-truths we receive each day on environmental issues come from a mainstream media that is hopelessly biased in favor of big government regulation and against private property rights and free enterprise. To augment its legal challenges against the Endangered Species Act, PLF is conducting an aggressive public awareness campaign through targeted media relations and public education.
Program Contacts: PLF Principal Attorney, or PLF Vice President .



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