Don’t deny citizen involvement in endangered species protection

By JIM PEUGH, a member of REP’s California Chapter

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: Letter to the editor, San Diego Union Tribune, April 15, 2003


In a Union Tribune article on April 13, we are told that the Bush Administration, through Interior Secretary Gale Norton, is complaining about lawsuits that have required the federal government to list species as Endangered and to have Critical Habitat defined for species already listed. They allege that these suits have stymied the government’s ability to implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

It is important to know that these suits are largely successful in spite of the legal resources of the government opposing them. The courts often agree that the government is failing to provide for the protection and recovery of endangered species as required by the ESA.

The Administration is seeking the power to arbitrarily obstruct citizens from suing to make the government comply with its own regulations. It is burying this change in a budget bill so the public will have virtually no chance to comment on or influence the change.

The honest solution would be for the Administration and Congress to provide adequate funding to make the ESA work as it was intended and to stop pressuring federal agencies to obstruct the protection of these species for the economic benefit of special interests.

The extinction of species is one of the few irreversible impacts an administration can have. Many of San Diego’s indigenous species have become threatened or endangered. We urge our legislators, of both parties, to vigorously oppose this short-sighted deception.