Contact: Ryan Balis
(202) 507-6398 or [email protected]

For Release: June 21, 2005


Endangered Species Act Can't Work Without Property Rights Protections

53 Groups Outline Reform Principles in Letter to Resources Chairman Pombo

The Endangered Species Act has failed and will continue to fail so long as private property owners are penalized for good environmental stewardship, The National Center for Public Policy Research and 52 other leading national and grassroots organizations say in a letter sent to House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo.

The ESA, which is on the fast track for reform and reauthorization this year, has by most accounts been a stunning failure.

Since it became law over 30 years ago, only nine of the close to 1,300 species given special protection under the ESA - or 0.6 percent of the total - have recovered.

Despite its poor performance, some on Capitol Hill are calling for more of the same.

Signatories to the letter to Chairman Pombo, however, strongly disagree.

"You can not fix an already poisonous law by increasing its dosage," said David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research and one of the coalition letter's organizers. "The ESA hasn't failed because it isn't strong enough. It has failed because it has the incentives all wrong."

Today, private landowners live in fear of the ESA. Those who harbor endangered species on their property or merely own land suitable for them often find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions. To avoid such restrictions and the losses in property values that accompany them, many have been forced to preemptively sterilize their land to keep rare species away.

"Such pre-emptive sterilization benefits no one - least of all the species the ESA was meant to protect. The good news is that this practice can be stopped by compensating landowners for their losses," said Ridenour. "But make no mistake: If Americans continue to be penalized for good stewardship practices, they will cease such practices and even more rare species will be condemned to extinction."

For more information, contact Ryan Balis at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected], or visit the National Center's website at The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit 501(c)(3) communications and research foundation dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems.

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