Environmentalists have a lot of tools at their disposal in trying to block development and improvements in mankind’s quality of life. The Endangered Species Act is their hammer.
These days, a more accurate name for the federal law would be the Endangered Subspecies Act, given the way it allows the government to impose heavy-handed protection for creatures and plants that exist all over the country. Because these animals, bugs and weeds have barely perceptible variations in color or size and exist in different regional habitats, each subspecies is considered unique and worthy of special safeguards. That protection almost always involves preventing the economic or recreational use of the land these species call home, no matter the cost to taxpayers.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service angered the greens by refusing to list as endangered the Sacramento Mountains (New Mexico) checkerspot butterfly.
This particular butterfly, organizations including WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity contend, is totally different from the Bay checkerspot butterfly, the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly, the Quino checkerspot butterfly, the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and … well, you get the idea.
The environmentalists have wanted an endangered species listing for this particular butterfly for 10 years — and coincidentally, protections for 2,700 acres in southern New Mexico that people hike through and might want to build homes on. Their most recent appeal asserted that climate change could wipe out the butterfly in just a few years. The Fish and Wildlife Service correctly pointed out that there is “substantial uncertainty” over what affect the bogeyman of “climate change” could have on this subspecies, not to mention every other life form.
That radicals have been able to use the Endangered Species Act as a means to an end isn’t surprising, given Congress’s notorious lack of attention to detail and unintended consequences. That’s reason enough for lawmakers to vote against reauthorization barring major changes in the act.
Or at least a change in the law’s name.