Letters to the Editor

Harris letter: Endangered Species Act

Rocky Barker hit on some good ideas in his Nov. 25 blog concerning congressional efforts to dismantle the Endangered Species Act, such as creating a biodiversity trust fund paid for by a new royalty on minerals from federal lands and acknowledging the impact of climate change. But his other suggestions require caution.

The House Committee on Natural Resources is shepherding five bills through Congress that are aimed at dismantling the act. One bill would put elephants, chimpanzees, gorillas, tigers and giant pandas at risk. Another would gut the very heart of the ESA by allowing government agencies to preclude the listing of threatened species based on economic interests.

His suggestion of turning recovery authority for issuing conservation planning permits to the states would have to include funding and sanctions for noncompliance. And his idea of giving federal agencies more flexibility when they assess whether a government action would harm a species would be viable only if it were open to judicial review.

The act protects more than 1,600 animal and plant species in the U.S. and has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of species. Gutting it is not an option.

Michael Harris, director, Wildlife Law Program, Centennial, Colo.