Endangered R Us: Unintended Consequences of the Endangered Species Act, 1973-2013

The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the world’s most powerful environmental law. Bureaucratically complex, beset with litigation, gamed by activists, the ESA’s mandate for species protection “whatever the cost” abounds with adverse unintended consequences. Americans have wakened to realize that under ESA some of our own cherished values such as private property and economic growth are as endangered as any bug, bird, mouse, or minnow. Energy resources, agricultural productivity, and access to public lands are hindered by ESA, with untold billions in costs. Colorado case studies of the Preble’s mouse and the greater sage grouse illustrate these impacts. Kent Holsinger, a leading authority on the intricacies and burdens of ESA, argues for rethinking the law’s operation from a cost-benefit standpoint. Practical solutions such as programmatic compliance and market-based mitigation offer an exit from endless expensive regulation at undetermined benefit.

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