The National Center for Public Policy Research is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan communications and research foundation established in 1982 and based in Washington, D.C. We believe the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility, combined with a commitment to a strong national defense, provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.
Copyright The National Center for Public Policy Research
All links are provided exclusively for educational purposes. No endorsement of the content of external links is implied; nor should any document on this website be construed as endorsing or opposing any political party or candidate for public office.
Letters to this site or to The National Center may be published, including the name of the author.
Climate Depot unveils two shocking examples of hypocrisy by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) when it reports that global warming zealot Schumer is seeking federal aid for New York farmers because below-average temperatures are affecting crop yields.
That's my opinion, anyway.
Hypocrisy #1: Schumer has been co-sponsoring climate legislation that would have immense negative economic effects on the American public, supposedly in the interest of preventing global warming. So now he wants to hit up the taxpayers because it's too cold?
Hypocrisy #2: To hear him tell it, Schumer is extremely worried about farmers in New York who lost crops due to below-average temperatures. Federal funds are needed, he says, to mitigate the damage of nature: "We must provide immediate assistance after the unusually low temperatures that destroyed... crops and profits for the season."
But does Schumer do anything when federal laws -- federal laws he supports, such as the Endangered Species Act -- restrict vital water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, causing what one California Congressman, Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D), called a "Dust Bowl migration," as thousands of families are moving away from his district, thanks to unemployment nearing 50 percent in some communities.
Schumer calls upon the federal government to act immediately when nature hurts the farmers of his state, but when policies he ardently supportS hurt the farmers of California, he just doesn't care.
E-mail any comments to the National Center for Public Policy Research at [email protected]. Subscribe to this blog's feed.
The California Drought's Congressional "Kangaroo Court"
The kangaroo waits for the hearing to begin.
The kangaroo listens attentively to hearing proceedings. The National Center for Public Policy Research's Jeff Temple and Devon Carlin are seated to the kangaroo's left.
Devon Carlin provides a report on the U.S. House Resources Committee hearing Monday -- the one to which the National Center for Public Policy Research sent a "kangaroo" (actually, an undercover operative in a kangaroo suit).
By Devon Carlin:
Rural Californians are in their third year of a severe drought, but Congressional leaders seem more fixated on finding a "comprehensive" solution that accommodates endangered species and adheres to the belief in catastrophic man-made global warming than in dealing with very real human suffering.
This was our observation during a March 31 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources hearing, titled "The California Drought: Actions by Federal and State Agencies to Address Impacts on Lands, Fisheries, and Water Users."
According to the hearing's initial announcement, the hearing was to feature only one panel of witnesses - one overwhelmingly comprised of federal bureaucrats.
To some, this was seen as a "kangaroo court" that would promote the global warming and endangered species gospel with little or no opposition. It seemed to lack everything but an actual kangaroo. But the National Center for Public Policy Research was more than happy to provide one!
As the overflow crowd lined up for entry into the hearing room, the National Center's kangaroo stepped out of a nearby elevator. As participating members of Congress arrived, they certainly noticed the large, brown kangaroo. When acting Committee Chairwoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA) gaveled the hearing to order, our kangaroo was prominently seated in the audience.
As National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith pointed out in a press release that was handed out at the hearing:
At the height of a California drought and during a serious recession with massive unemployment in California's Central Valley, one would hope that the Committee cared enough about agricultural workers and minorities to invite as witnesses actual unemployed farm workers from the scores of communities closing down. Let's have an open Committee hearing and hear real people discussing the impacts on their lives from government regulations and massive job losses - instead of more government bureaucrats who are only causing the problem.
The furry, National Center-provided visual reminder - and some last-minute intervention from a bipartisan delegation of Congressmen from districts affected by the drought - helped to provide balance.
While it seemed the Committee's leaders had already made up their minds, they and the witnesses they selected nevertheless ended up receiving an earful about the human suffering brought about by poorly-applied government regulations and what could be done to alleviate the distress.
It was originally announced that testimony would be given exclusively by the panel of representatives of government agencies. Invited agency representatives were Mary M. Glackin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; J. William McDonald of the Bureau of Reclamation; Candy Thompson of the Farm Service Agency and California Secretary of Natural Resources Mike Chrisman. The lone critic was to be Allen Ishida, a Tulare County Supervisor and farmer.
Things changed due to the last-minute inclusion of a bipartisan panel of Congressmen representing the region worst hit by the drought. This panel was comprised of Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), Dennis A. Cardoza (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Wally Herger (R-CA) and Ken Calvert (R- CA).
This new panel, unanticipated at the time the hearing was announced (and the kangaroo was called) brought much-needed balance.
All participants appeared to agree that California is in bad shape. The lack of an adequate supply of water in affected areas is putting farmers and ranchers out of work. Their crops aren't growing and livestock are going thirsty. Employment rates in affected areas range from 20 to over 40 percent, and job losses could rise to nearly 80,000. Families are flocking to food lines. Depleted food bank pantries reflect the state's shortage of produce. Incredible numbers of acres are left even more vulnerable to the type of brush fires that consumed more than one million acres last year. Agricultural economic losses are projected to exceed $3 billion by year-end.
What people want to know is what the government is going to do to help. The representatives of the government, and their liberal supporters among the Committee majority, seem committed to a "comprehensive" solution that protect the environment first and merely seeks to aid the afflicted human population. Conservatives, however, offered concrete plans to alleviate human suffering and increase agricultural productivity while minimizing environmental impact.
Congressmen from the affected areas - both on the Committee and on the testifying panel - noted that, despite California's historic familiarity with natural drought conditions, the problem this time is man-made. With rainfall and snow-pack totals nearing the average when compared to recent years, neither nature nor global warming can be blamed for the water shortage.
One of the many regulatory culprits is the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Delta Smelt, for example, is a three-inch long fish that has been declared "threatened" under the ESA. Federal water officials reallocated a substantial amount of the water supply to flow out to sea in order to help protect the Delta Smelt. In the process, it recklessly slashed water deliveries to agricultural areas of California.
The local Congressman pointed out factors in the Smelt's population decline that are not man-made, such as larger predatory fish. Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA), who represents the region and is a member of the Committee, noted from the dais that more water diverted for the good of the Delta Smelt has not helped its recovery.
When queried, the government officials, who gave very dry presentations about "comprehensive" relief strategies, offered no precise ways to bring about an end to the human suffering in the region.
Conversely, the lawmakers whose constituents were affected and have a sense of the needs of the region proposed multiple relief plans and suggested reform of the ESA that would bring water back to residents in need and pose a minimal threat to the Delta Smelt population.
In the short history of the Obama Administration, conservatives have been cast as obstructionist and lacking ideas by their liberal counterparts. At this hearing, exactly the opposite was the case.
One proposed idea, known as the "Two-Gates" project, involves the installation of two temporary gates in the central Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. These gates would reduce the number of smelt removed from the Delta, thus permitting water export restrictions to be minimized.
Another proposal was to reform the ESA to overcome an ESA-based lawsuit that forced the Red Bluff Diversion Dam ("RBDD") to cease operating. Prior to the lawsuit, the RBDD performed as an efficient, gravity-fed water diversion. Shutting the existing diversion down has created the need for a comparable alternative. A popular pitch for its replacement is a power-driven, screened pumping plant that would supply 150,000 acres of agricultural land with irrigation water.
These and other relief proposals were called "shovel-ready" and within the scope of projects that could be funded by the recently-passed "stimulus" bill. The committee liberals' response? Representative George Miller (D-CA) mocked members of the Congressional panel who voted against the "stimulus." As for human suffering at the hands of government regulation, he considered that "cherry-picking history." He passed off any blame to a judge, whose decision set the policy.
This liberal disdain is surprising when the drought was called the "Katrina of California" by both panelists and members of the committee alike.
Near the end of the hearing, freshman Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) came right out and asked the direct and nearly rhetorical question that was surely on the minds of many in attendance: "What's more important - people or fish?"
This post was written by Research Associate Devon Carlin. To send comments to the author, write her at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.
U.S. House Holds Kangaroo Hearing to Fool Public About Causes of California Drought
The National Center for Public Policy Research has sent a 'kangaroo' to a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Resources Committee on climate change and the California drought.
The kangaroo's appearance will to protest the fact that the hearing is expected to ignore the contribution of environmental regulations in exacerbating the drought, and also the fact that only representatives of government agencies, mostly federal, have been invited to testify.
Our press release explains:
'Kangaroo-Court' Hearing a One-Sided View of California Drought
Washington, D.C.: The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is holding a one-sided hearing this morning on the California drought that is expected to blame climate change for a critical water shortage while glossing over the role of activist-inspired environmental policies in exacerbating the shortage, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.
The hearing, entitled "The California Drought: Actions by Federal and State Agencies to Address Impacts on Lands, Fisheries, and Water Users," will be held today, March 31, at 10:30 am in Room 1324, Longworth House Office Building.
Only representatives of government agencies will be permitted to testify at the hearing. Most of the witnesses will be from federal agencies.
To draw attention to the biased nature of the proceedings, The National Center for Public Policy Research will send a representative to the hearing best suited for a kangaroo court - a kangaroo.
"At the height of a California drought and during a serious recession with massive unemployment in California's Central Valley, one would hope that the committee cared enough about agricultural workers and minorities to invite as witnesses actual unemployed farm workers from the scores of communities closing down," remarked R.J. Smith, a Senior Fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Let's have an open Committee hearing and hear real people discussing the impacts on their lives from government regulations and their massive job losses - instead of more government bureaucrats who are only causing the problem."
California - the nation's largest producer of tomatoes, lettuce, almonds, apricots, strawberries and many other crops - risks agricultural losses of over $2 billion for the upcoming season and $3 billion in total economic losses in 2009. According to a University of California at Davis study, 80,000 jobs could be lost in the Central Valley.
Although global warming is expected to receive much of the blame for this economic disaster, government regulation is a more significant - and preventable cause - of it, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.
For example, state and federal water officials have sharply cut agricultural water deliveries in California so that more water can go out to sea as part of an effort to protect the Delta Smelt - a three-inch long fish listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In February, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a "zero allocation" of water from the Central Valley Project, cutting off the massive federal irrigation system that serves numerous California farms. The supply of water from California's State Water Project is 20 percent of normal.
"By demanding that the water flow into the Pacific Ocean, government meddlers have forced farmers to abandon production, threatening both the nation's fresh food supplies and the jobs of farm workers, many of whom are among the nation's poorest minorities," said Mr. Smith. "Ironically, the cut-off of agricultural water has done nothing to help the Delta Smelt. Every year less water is diverted for agriculture, yet the fish population continues to decline."
The state of California also deserves blame for the water shortage because it has failed to build the water infrastructure necessary for the state's growing population.
Donn Zea, President of the Northern California Water Association, wrote in the March 5th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle that although California's population has doubled over the past 40 years, the state has not meaningfully updated its water storage capacity since 1967. "As a result, when drought hits, we have an amount of water suitable for California in 1960 - not 2009," wrote Mr. Zea.
The Resources Committee - which has a history of promoting global warming alarmism - is expected to explore the dubious link between a modest increase in global temperatures and localized weather patterns devastating California.
"If certain members of the House Natural Resources Committee want the world to believe that a regional drought in an arid area of California is further 'proof' of global warming, then let's hope that they apply the same reasoning to the floods that are ravaging eastern and central North Dakota," remarked Dr. Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research. "By the thousands, residents of Fargo and Bismarck are trying to protect their cities from the rising waters of the Red and Missouri Rivers. The blocks of ice on the Missouri River north of Bismarck were so huge that explosives were used to blow them up. Will Chairman Rahall invite Fargo's mayor and other North Dakota officials before his committee to testify on how ordinary citizens spent hours in sub-freezing, snowy weather protecting their homes and businesses from the effects of global cooling?"
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. For more information, visit the National Center's website at www.nationalcenter.org or call (202) 507-6398.
Here's hoping our 'kangaroo' (actually, a man in a kangaroo costume) is able to draw some attention to government regulations that are needlessly hurting Californians.
Diverse Coalition Appeals to Congress Regarding Unjust Provisions of Omnibus Land Management Act
Readers with an interest in property rights, civil rights or simply staying out of jail for doing something one has no idea is illegal will want to review the coalition letter sent to the Congressional leadership, the Attorney General and to President Barack Obama by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences and the National Center for Public Policy Research during the last 24 hours.
Our respective organizations have diverse viewpoints, but we share a deep and abiding belief in due process under the law. We believe that that Congress should perform careful diligence before adding violations to the criminal codes, that federal crimes should be narrowly defined and show clear criminal intent, and that the use of asset forfeiture must be narrowly tailored so that it does not unduly punish the accused before a trial has proven their guilt. As such we have grave concerns about sections of the pending Omnibus Land Management Act of 2009, which passed the Senate last week as H.R. 146, regarding "paleontological resources preservation."
These sections, now contained in the bill under Subtitle Dof Title VI, seek to empower the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to"protect paleontological resources on Federal land using scientific principles and expertise." We understand that preventing theft of and harm to important fossils on federal land is a serious objective. However, we are concerned that the bill creates many new federal crimes using language that is so broad that the provisions could cover innocent human error. There is also, in defining the crimes, a troubling lack of words such as "knowingly" that clearly establish criminal intent as a prerequisite for prosecution. As Georgetown University legal ethicist John Hasnas has written, to serve the greater goal of justice, all criminal laws must require the government to establish that "one had to knowingly or at least recklessly act in a morally blameworthy way to be subject of criminal punishment."
H.R. 146 would make it illegal to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on Federal land" without special permission from the government. Penalties for violations include up to five years imprisonment. "Paleontological resources" are loosely defined as all "fossilized remains ... that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth." We are troubled by this definition that paleontological organizations say could cover many common rocks that adults and children collect. The Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences has warned that with this wording, it is easy to visualize "a group of students unknowingly crossing over an invisible line."
We are also concerned about the bill's prohibition against "false labeling" of fossil specimens, an offense that also carries criminal penalties. The bill makes it a crime to "make or submit any false record, account or label for, or any false identification of, any paleontological resource excavated or removed from federal land." This broad language could criminalize innocent misidentifications, limit scientific inquiry, and infringe on the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. Fossil labeling is a complex process, and even the top museums of the world have been known to revise labeling in their exhibits upon scholarly review or new facts being discovered ..Thus, the fear of making an honest mistake in fossil labeling or even having fossil identifications proven "false" in light of new scientific discoveries could have a chilling effect on new research in paleontology.
We are pleased that the Senate recently improved provisions regarding forfeiture. Language in earlier versions of the legislation would have allowed government officials to engage in the pretrial seizure of "all vehicles and equipment of any person" accused of theft or harm to a "paleontological resource." Forfeiting a person's property without a conviction undermines the bedrock principle of our legal system: that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Past abuses of forfeiture led to bipartisan passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, and we had feared that these provisions would go against the spirit of these reforms. The Senate heeded our concerns with an amendment, and as passed on March 20, "vehicles and equipment" were removed from the forfeiture language, so that the forfeiture provisions apply only to the "paleontological resources" taken from federal land. This is a marked improvement, and we would oppose any attempts to reinsert forfeiture of personal property in a revised bill.
Above all, we are concerned that a bill containing new federal crimes, fines and imprisonment, and forfeiture provisions may come to the House floor without first being marked up in the House Judiciary Committee. That committee is tasked with providing centralized oversight of criminal legislation, thereby enhancing the fairness and consistency of those enactments. As such we strongly urge that the criminal provisions of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act be stripped from any final legislation until they are subject to Judiciary Committee review and amendment."
Representatives of the signatory organizations of this letter would be happy to meet with you or members of your staff to address these concerns.
Caroline Fredrickson Director American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office
Tracie Bennitt President Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences
John Berlau Director, Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs Competitive Enterprise Institute
Kyle O'Dowd Assoc. Executive Director for Policy National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
David A. Ridenour Vice President The National Center for Public Policy Research
Cc: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer House Majority Whip James Clyburn House Minority Whip Eric Cantor House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith President Barack Obama Attorney General Eric Holder
For more information on this issue, see this blog's previous coverage of this here and here. ________________________________
Statement on USFWS Plans to Introduce More Mexican Gray Wolves in the Southwest
Senior Fellow R.J. Smith has issued a statement on USFWS plans to introduce still more Mexican Gray Wolves in the Southwest:
For a quarter of a century the controversial program to repopulate the Southwest with Mexican Gray Wolves has created a constant political struggle in New Mexico and Arizona. There were very good reasons why the early settlers across the West and the local, state and federal governments cooperated in eliminating the wolves. The large numbers of wolves made cattle and sheep ranching nearly impossible with their constant depredations on the livestock and they also threatened family dogs and even children.
However, as radical Greens have gained influence with liberal politicians and the media, they have been able to gain support for their efforts to force family farmers, ranchers and landowners off the land and return it to dangerous predators. It is part and parcel of their ongoing program of "rural cleansing": to remove people from the land and return it to near wilderness. It is part of a massive program called the Wildlands Project, which even enjoyed support within the Bush administration's political appointees in the Department of Interior.
The USFWS has said that the federal efforts to reintroduce the wolves require the release of still more wolves in order to improve the chances for success. By success they must mean the total elimination of people and livestock in the Southwest. Apparently they have noticed that there are still some ranchers managing to survive who have not lost all their livestock. The chief Mexican Wolf official with the Southwest field office of the USFWS said that the current recovery plan's target wolf population is not high enough.
There have been continuous conflicts in the relatively limited areas where the wolves have already been released over the last decade. Constant wolf attacks on livestock and farm dogs, wolves circling farmhouses at night and wolves gathering near rural school bus stops. There have already been calls for building wolf-proof bus stop shelters in order to protect children from possible attacks. It is widely know that federal officials seldom respond quickly enough following reports of livestock predation to document the event and attempt to capture the specific wolves involved. Although the feds have had to recapture some wolves which have repeatedly been involved in predation, their often slow response has led to examples of ranchers and farmers acting to protect their livestock and their families.
Yet the feds not only want to release still more wolves but they want to release them across a far wider area of the Southwest.
One wonders what oath of office the politicians took who acted to place the well being of wolves before that of American families and children.
Rumor has it that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is re-introducing his massive federal land control bill.
The National Center for Public Policy Research polled African-Americans on the legislation. 52% oppose the legislation while only 37% support it.
As our vice president, David Ridenour, noted when the poll was released:
This is a key test of whether liberal politicians listen to African-Americans who cast 95% of their votes for Barack Obama and accounted for nearly one-quarter of all of President-elect Obama's votes. Black Americans don't want more land locked up if it means restricting energy development and home construction, driving up the price of both. And that's precisely what this bill would do.
The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, an amalgamation of more than 100 bills that would place new restrictions on energy exploration, home construction, and business activity, has been scheduled by Harry Reid (D-NV) for a vote during this week's special lame duck session of the Senate.
The bill would restrict use of millions of additional acres of land, both public and private, through the creation of new National Heritage Areas (a program creating de facto federal zoning), new wilderness area designations, and management practices that would clear the way for special protections for so-called "view scapes," "sound scapes," and even "smell scapes."
The National Center also helped Americans for Tax Reform gather signatures for a coalition letter to the U.S. Senate on this issue that ATR spearheaded, a PDF of which can be found here.
Addendum, January 12, 2009: The bill was brought to the Senate floor Sunday, January 11, and adopted 66-12. ____
Every Day is Arbor Day for Private Conservationists
From Casey Lartigue, Jr.:
Do we want more trees or more moralizing about trees?
Today, in Washington, D.C. and other parts of the country, Americans will plant a tree. Coming on the heels of the political brow-beating of earlier this week that has become synonymous with Earth Day, the Arbor Day festival - celebrated since 1872 - is a low-key, quaint and practical event by comparison.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, its members planted 8.5 million trees last year. Additionally, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car has pledged, in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, to plant a million trees a year for the next 50 years. Internationally, the United Nations Environment Programme recently celebrated the nearing of its goal of a billion trees planted for its Plant for the Planet campaign. A number of corporations such as Ebay, the Yves Rocher Group and Bayer Corporation have also joined the effort, launched in 2006 by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, pledging to plant trees.
These tree-planting campaigns generate nice news coverage for the organizations, but they pale in comparison to what private landowners and companies do on a regular basis not only to plant trees but also to nurture them for future use.
According to the Engineered Wood Association, American landowners plant more than two billion trees annually. Participants in the industry-backed Sustainable Forestry Initiative plant 1.7 million seedlings daily. The SFI program, started in the mid-1990s by members of American Forest and Paper Association and developed by landowners, professional foresters, conservationists and scientists to sustainably manage forestlands, has resulted in participants planting almost five billion trees.
It isn't surprising. It's the miracle of private property ownership and stewardship.
After all, people don't typically burn their own homes, land or money. The razing of lands typically comes about because of the problem known as the tragedy of the commons. When no one - or the government - owns property, it is more likely that people will abuse it. Forest landowners and timber companies have the incentive to replant a tree they cut down. Often, they replant several trees for every one they take. But because these people go about this as a matter of doing business and not as a charitable act, they don't get the headlines that the smaller efforts do.
While organized alarmists make it seem that we're running out of trees, the reality is that there are 12 million more acres of forests in the U.S. today than there were in 1987. According to the United States Forest Service, the United States has more forest land now - 749 million acres - than the 735 million acres it had in 1920. That's even though the population has more than tripled (along with increased needs for forest-related products) during that same period.
It isn't just with trees and forests that we are better off with private ownership. As private conservationists prove on a daily basis, we can have more of an animal or species when they are put under private control. The duck population will continue to increase as long as Ducks Unlimited is allowed to raise ducks so they can shoot them. We'll never run out of cows or pigs as long as people are allowed to eat them. But if we all become vegans, you might want to invest in vegetables rather than farm animals.
If Animals Ran Political Ads, What Would They Look Like?
To draw a bit of fun attention to the polar bear question (should they or should they not be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act due to "global warming"), The National Center for Public Policy Research, in conjunction with Citizens United, has released a parody political ad that reveals a few facts about the polar bear situation while having some fun.
The video has had over 5,000 YouTube views since its release four days ago, and has just been posted on the Media Research Center's new video sharing website Eyeblast.tv (worth checking out!).
For those who like a few more facts than a one-minute parody of a political commercial can deliver, we also offer a 5,000-word policy paper on polar bears. Or you can read our press release, reprinted below:
Parody Ad Takes Up Cause of Ringed Seals, Says Polar Bear Populations are Prosperous and Growing
Listing the Polar Bear as "Threatened" Under the ESA Could Harm Bears and Humans Alike; Says New Study Released with the Ad
In light of environmentalist campaigns pressuring the Administration to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, the National Center for Public Policy Research, joined by Citizens United, has released for the Internet a lighthearted parody political ad to remind the public that the polar bears' situation isn't as dire as some environmental organizations are leading the public to believe.
The ad, a parody of the wild charges and breathless style of many political campaign ads, lets the public know what is not always clear from environmentalist lobbying campaigns: The global population of polar bears is 22,000, about double what it was just four decades ago.
"Many people will be surprised to learn there are 22,000 polar bears and their population has doubled," said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "While obviously many aspects of our parody ad - such as the polar bears in suits, lobbying Congress - are complete fiction, the steady growth in the global polar bear population is real. We hope that people who view our parody ad seeking a laugh will remember that fact, and perhaps be inspired to look a little more deeply into the basis of environmentalist claims regarding the polar bear."
The ad is being released in conjunction with a National Center for Public Policy Research policy paper, "Listing the Polar Bear Under the Endangered Species Act Because of Projected Future Global Warming Could Harm Bears and Humans Alike," by Peyton Knight and Amy Ridenour.
The paper questions the wisdom of listing the polar bear as threatened based on environmentalist organizations' projections of future global warming because:
* Listing the polar bear could have adverse affects on bear conservation efforts.
* Global polar bear population levels presently are healthy.
* The anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming theory remains only a theory, and climate science is in its infancy. Even those who agree with the global warming theory disagree about the extent of its projected effects.
* Listing the polar bear as threatened on the basis of projected future global warming would most likely be extremely expensive to the U.S. economy.
* Listing the polar bear based on projected global warming can be expected to greatly expand federal regulatory powers under the ESA.
* Because of its great expense and controversial nature, federal policies regarding global warming should be made only by Congress with input from the Executive Branch, not by a presidential appointee charged with enforcing a 1973 law written for other purposes.
"Having failed despite spending tens of millions of dollars to convince the public, or even a Democratic Congress, that drastic and very expensive greenhouse gas emission reductions are warranted to deter theorized global warming, environmental organizations are now hijacking the Endangered Species Act to do an end-run around our democratic institutions," said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research and co-author of the paper. "The formal petition to the government seeking 'threatened' status for the polar bear makes it very clear: The environmental groups behind this scheme are trying to use the polar bear to force the government to impose a -- in their words -- 'drastic' reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. They want policies like those in the Kyoto global warming treaty forced upon Congress and the American public. The tragedy is that, if the environmentalists succeed, Americans -- especially lower-income Americans -- will be harmed, and so will the polar bears."
"Listing the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act could harm bear conservation efforts by eliminating revenues from the carefully-regulated sport hunting of polar bears by Americans and the importation of polar bear meat and trophies into the U.S. As hunting by non-Americans would replace hunting by Americans, nothing would be accomplished in terms of reducing the number of polar bears killed, but the revenue currently generated by American sport hunters for conservation and research efforts would be eliminated," added Amy Ridenour. "And what's more, global warming -- if the global warming theory turns out to be accurate -- would still occur, because greenhouse gas emissions in China, India, Europe and elsewhere are still growing by leaps and bounds."
Listing the Polar Bear Under the ESA Could Spell Disaster
From Peyton Knight:
In reaction to the Bush Administration's deliberation over whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act the Natural Resources Defense Council's Andrew Wetzler claims: "There's no reason for them not to finalize that decision now."
There are big reasons, one of which may explain the NRDC's zeal for a rush to judgment.
The polar bear population has doubled since 1965, from 10,000 to 20,000-25,000 today. Even the World Wildlife Fund, which advocates listing the bear, in 2006 said there are "at least 22,000 polar bears worldwide" and "the general status of polar bears is currently stable."
Further, listing the bear could spawn lawsuits and impose economy-crippling restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. Because the ESA makes it a crime to "harm" a listed animal or its habitat, environmentalists could sue any public or private entity that emits CO2, which, they claim, causes global warming and harms the bear. NRDC and others already have successfully sued under the ESA to stop everything from military training to cattle ranching.
Listing the polar bear would benefit environmental activists, but would raise energy costs for consumers and harm our economy, while providing few if any benefits to the bears.
Wolf-Protecting Oil Drilling Opponent Rep. George Miller Stands Squarely on Both Sides of the Caribou-Protection Issue
From Roll Call, a story about a generous offer by Alaska Rep. Don Young to the very liberal Rep. George Miller:
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) wants California Democrat George Miller’s district to go to the wolves.
Young sent a 'Dear Colleague' missive Tuesday attacking Miller and the group Defenders of Wildlife for their efforts to make it illegal to shoot wildlife from aircraft, a common practice in Alaska to help control the wolf population. Young, who nicknamed Miller’s bill the ‘Wolves are Cute Act,’ told colleagues the sad tale of a constituent’s 10-year-old retriever, Buddy, who was killed by wolves.
Young proposed a solution that he thinks should satisfy everyone: Instead of passing legislation, just use the money the Defenders of Wildlife raised to herd Alaska’s wolves and transport them to Miller’s district. 'This proposal is a win-win for everyone, and I would suggest my colleagues present it to Defenders of Wildlife representatives roaming the Capitol this week,' Young wrote.
So far, the Alaska Republican has gotten support from many Western states, according to his spokesman Steve Hansen...
I bet he has. People who live with the possibility of encountering potentially lethal wild animals on their own land tend to have a more passionate interest in predator control programs than do people in urban and suburban neighborhoods.
Nevertheless, we cannot discount the passion of environmentalist do-gooders, who always side with animals, even against other animals. Their allies don't delude themselves entirely, however: When press hound Rep. Miller had a press conference touting his bill (H.R. 3663, the Protect America’s Wildlife Act, or PAW Act -- get it?) to outlaw airborne hunting, he invited an Arctic Grey Wolf -- and then had his staff issue a warning to everyone present that food was not allowed near the press conference.
Perhaps this nod to the wolf's lethal nature is why Miller's bill doesn't outlaw poisoning wolves, or shooting them out the window of one's truck. Or maybe he'll get to that later. The environmentalists may prefer to raise money fighting wolf poisoning some other time.
Miller ludicrously claims shooting a wolf from the air is "unfair"; by that standard, shooting them at all should be banned. What wolf ever shot a human?
But then we have to remember that the point of the predator control program is not to save humans, but moose and caribou, animals so near and dear to the hearts of environmentalists that they've repeatedly managed to stop drilling in the oil-rich Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, lest a caribou be mildly discomfited. (Ignore for a moment that caribou populations rose after oil drilling in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay.)
So there we have the priorities of liberal Rep. George Miller.
When American needs energy independence, and Alaska natives need jobs, Rep. George Miller sides against them and with the caribou. But let an environmental organization decide that the state of Alaska shouldn't use airplanes to kill under 200 wolves a year to protect caribou, caribou health suddenly isn't so important anymore.
Indeed, the Arctic Grey Wolf present at Miller's press conference is fed an average of five pounds of meat every day.
Bonus: You can read more of Rep. George Miller's views on ANWR in this newsletter (PDF) by the ardently-anti drilling Alaska Wilderness League, which lobbied Congress against ANWR drilling in 2006. The group's newsletter thanks the following corporations for helping to make its lobbying work possible: Bank of America, Monsanto, PG&E, Microsoft, American Express (via its foundation, which is an interesting, as foundations rarely fund overt lobbying) and Ameriprise.
Double bonus: Find what the National Center for Public Policy Research has published concerning ANWR and caribou here.
Issue background: For the last five years Alaska has run a predator control program to increase moose and caribou populations and to protect other animals. It is targeted mostly at wolves, but also at grizzly and black bears. Under 700 (671 is the latest number I've seen) wolves have been killed in this program.
Predator control programs are not new to Alaska. They existed among Alaskan Native Americans before European contact. The territory of Alaska paid bounties for predator killing as early as 1915; the federal government, by the 1920s. Predator control by aircraft has been official policy off-and-on during that time.
For more information on the state's perspective, I recommend these papers by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation. For more on Rep. Miller's views, go to one of his press conferences -- but don't take a snack with you. _____
The entire National Center document Salon linked to shows there was a lot more at stake than us supposedly attacking the Endangered Species Act, while Newt Gingrich "defended" it.
In fact, we were trying to reform a failed Act, and Gingrich was blocking reform.
Here's what Salon linked to, from 1996:
House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the single greatest threat to needed reform of environmental laws, announced the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research on June 24. The Speaker's efforts to stymie meaningful reform of the Endangered Species Act, his support for legislation that would threaten private property and subvert efforts to base legislation on sound science, and his efforts to give the environmental establishment veto power over all environmental legislation mean the Speaker should be the poster boy of the environmental movement -- not its villain -- says the group.
In recent months, environmental groups have been attempting to use the Speaker's waning popularity to sink regulatory relief efforts. But Newt Gingrich and the environmental movement are like two peas in a pod. In fact, says the group, Newt Gingrich has staked out environmental positions that are so radical that some of the staunchest environmentalists appear moderate by comparison. For example, Gingrich recently blocked changes to a dolphin protection measure that had been given the green light not only by environmental establishment Republicans like Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), but by environmental groups like Greenpeace. In May he also urged Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS) to abandon eforts to pass property rights legislation -- a measure supported by over two-thirds of the electorate.
"Given the Speaker's apparent contempt for private property rights, his penchant for 'junk science' and his indifference to the plight of Americans suffering under unreasonable regulations, he ought to be the environmental movement's poster boy -- not its villain," said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. Ironically, at the very time Speaker Gingrich has been villified by the environmental movement, he's been working to ensure that they have greater say in the nation's policies. Recently, Gingrich established a House Task Force on the Environment designed to give environmentalists veto power over all environmental legislation. Gingrich appointed Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) to co-chair the Task Force, one of the House of Representatives' most rabid environmentalists -- Democrat or Republican. Boehlert received a 92% score in the League of Conservation Voters' environmental scorecard -- higher than 53% of House Democrats.
Our complaints about then-Speaker Gingrich on environmental issues only began with the the Endangered Species Act. There was a lot more to it than that.
Yet the Endangered Species Act was, and remains, a failure. Nonetheless, as Speaker, Gingrich blocked reform intended to improve the Act.
Here's what The National Center recommended for Endangered Species Act reform when Gingrich was Speaker, taken from a 1995 press release of The National Center's Environmental Policy Task Force:
The Endangered Species Act has failed to protect endangered and threatened species while needlessly violating the constitutional rights of individual citizens and costing the nation billions of dollars, according to the Environmental Policy Task Force. The Task Force has just released guidelines for effective Endangered Species Act reform that can protect both species and the rights of the American people.
The guidelines, published in two just-released Talking Points on the Economy cards, "Checklist for Endangered Species Act Reform" and "A Species Protection Plan That Works for Both Wildlife and Humans," include four general recommendations for effective reform and six specific policy recommendations. Among the Environmental Policy Task Force's general recommendations is that Congress recognize that the current Endangered Species Act has failed before attempting to reform the law. Some 900 plants and animals are currently listed as either "endangered" or "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act with another 4,000 species either candidates for future listing or in the process of being listed. But in the 21 years the law has been on the books, only 27 species have managed to get off the "endangered" list. Seven of these delistings were due to extinction and the remaining were due to data error, court orders or species improvements completely unrelated to the Endangered Species Act. The Act has been an abysmal failure because it actually encourages the destruction of species habitat.
"The greatest fear of any landowner is that their property will be identified by federal bureaucrats as potential habitat for an endangered species. Federal restrictions on the use of the land that result can render a property worthless," said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research and Director of Environmental Policy Task Force. "If landowners are destroying wildlife habitat today, it is only because the current Endangered Species Act has taught them that if they want to keep any of their investment they must extract whatever natural resources their land possesses quickly and make the land as inhospitable to wildlife as possible."
The fundamental flaws of the Endangered Species Act -- including its failure to protect endangered species -- means that the Endangered Species Act has outlived its usefulness and must go, according to Environmental Policy Task Force. In its place, the Task Force suggests that a voluntary, incentive-based species protection plan be adopted that includes such incentives as tax breaks and even cash payments to reward individuals for wildlife preservation. Rather than using the government's coercive powers to force individuals to shoulder the burden for species protection that the country as a whole desires, individuals would be rewarded for responsible stewardship by the public.
"The Endangered Species Act is out of control because the bureaucrats who enforce it don't have to pay for it. They transfer the cost of protecting endangered species habitat from the public at large to private individuals," said Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ), a member of both the House Resource Committee and the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee's subcommittee on natural resources who will likely play a key role in Endangered Species Act reform. "Congress can restore rationality to the system by making the Fish and Wildlife Service pay for what it demands."
The Environmental Policy Task Force's reform guidelines recognize the underlying reasons for the Endangered Species Act's failure and thus represent a bold departure from past reform efforts. If there is to be meaningful Endangered Species Act reform, there can be no room for sentimental attachments and "good intentions" alone simply won't do.
"Now is not the time to be reaffirming the failed approach of the past," said John Shanahan, policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation who helped devise the Task Force's recommendations. "What is called for is a new vision which for the first time protects people and wildlife alike."
The Environmental Policy Task Force is a project of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation and resource center based in Washington, D.C. The Task Force was established to find and promote innovative, workable solutions to environmental problems -- solutions that minimize the suffering of working Americans while still protecting the environment.
Gingrich opposed what we suggested; supporting instead the status quo.
Did the Gingrich status quo protect species? It's years later now, so let's examine what happened:
ESA's 32 Years of Failure
In the 32 years the ESA has been on the books, just 34 of the nearly 1,300 U.S. species given special protection have made their way off the "endangered" or "threatened" lists. Of this number, nine species are now extinct, 14 appear to have been improperly listed in the first place, and just nine (.6% of all the species listed) have recovered sufficiently to be de-listed. Two species - a plant with white to pale-blue flowers called the Hoover's Woolly-Star and the yellow perennial, Eggert's Sunflower - appear to have made their way off the threatened list in part through "recovery" and in part because they were not as threatened as originally believed.
A less than 1% recovery rate isn't good. Some environmental groups, however, insist that this statistic proves the opposite - that the ESA has been very effective. These organizations note that, since 99% of all the species given special protection have either recovered or are still on the endangered and threatened lists, these species all "still exist" and, therefore, the ESA has worked. The "still exist" standard, however, tells us little about the true status of endangered and threatened species and certainly does not prove the efficacy of the ESA...
... Just 36% of the species on the endangered and threatened lists are currently believed to be stable or improving - meaning that 64% are declining...
-David Ridenour, 2005
So what Gingrich was "defending" was a status quo that leaves 64% of species in decline.
I guess some of us support species, while others support the Endangered Species Act. _____
A Wyoming family's dream to build an indoor horse-riding arena on their property is on hold because the area on which they want to build is designated critical habitat for Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse - whose existence as a separate, identifiable species is being debated.
When Jim and Amy LeSatz inherited property in Chugwater, Wyoming from Amy's grandfather in 1998, they had visions of building their own indoor horse-riding arena. They planned to raise and train horses and host clinics for other horse owners. Instead, the LeSatzes are forced to continue to use an arena 25 miles away because of Endangered Species Act restrictions designed to protect the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse - an animal whose very existence is currently under debate.
The Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse was listed as a threatened species under the ESA in May of 1998. As the LeSatzes began formulating their plans to build their own riding arena, they found the only suitable area where it could be built was among 31,000 acres designated as critical habitat for the mouse. The host of restrictions governing the use of the land made development too costly. Therefore, the LeSatzes must chauffeur their horses back and forth to the existing indoor arena. The cost to rent the arena and transport the horses - something they've had to do for nearly seven years - continues to be significant. The LeSatzes believe that constructing their own arena would dramatically ease these escalating costs. Thus far, however, the critical habitat designation for the mouse has prevented that from happening.
This situation may change as research puts the very existence of the species in question. New research by Rob Roy Ramey II, former curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, indicates that the mouse never really existed. Instead, he argues the mouse is genetically identical to another species, the Bear Lodge Meadow Jumping Mouse, which is common enough that threatened status or critical habitat designations aren't necessary. But Ralph Morgenweck, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver, says the new research doesn't mandate immediate changes, saying "we're trying to be deliberate in our work, trying to get the best science we can and review of the science we do have, in making this decision [to de-list]." LeSatz is not happy with the delays: "Jim and I have always been good stewards of the land. We covet it. Once they de-list the mouse, we can finally begin our plans to build our own arena."
Coincidentally (or not), environmental groups are now asking for the protection of the Bear Lodge Mouse - which is known to reside in areas as far north as South Dakota and as far south as Colorado Springs - based on claims that it suffers from habitat degradation similar to what has been alleged for the Preble's Mouse. This is disputed by Kent Holsinger, an attorney for Coloradans for Water Conservation and Development. Holsinger requested the de-listing of the Preble's Mouse, and claims: "The bottom line is, [critical habitat designation] has been a wonderful tool for environmental groups to try to stop things."
Commenting on her family's enduring hardships, Amy LeSatz said, "A tiny little mouse comes in and changes your whole perspective. I've had more of an education in endangered species than I've ever wanted." FWS officials said they hoped to resolve the issue of whether to de-list the Preble Mouse by 2006, but the year came and went without a determination. Plans for the LeSatz family's riding arena remain on hold. Meanwhile, radical greens have been able to force the Denver Museum to terminate Dr. Ramey because he dared to do genetic research on the true status of the mouse.
Sources: CNNnews.com (June 11, 2004), Associated Press (June 11, 2004), Amy LeSatz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.
Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**
While secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Lawrence Small violated federal bird protection regulations when he imported Amazonian tribal art that, unbeknownst to him, contained feathers of endangered birds.
Amazonian Tribal Art or Endangered Species?
The government entrusted Lawrence M. Small, the former secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, with overseeing America's national museums, research centers and libraries and the National Zoo. When he opened his own private art collection, however, Small found himself entangled in allegations that he was violating a federal law related to protected bird species. As punishment for his violation, the government required Small to serve a hard labor sentence of 100 hours, involving planting trees or other such outdoor projects for the community.
Prior to entering public service, Small visited South America several times as a bank executive and became enamored with Amazonian art. In 1998, Small purchased approximately 1,000 pieces of Amazonian tribal art from anthropologist Rosita Herita for roughly $400,000. The collection contained various exotic headdresses, capes, masks and armbands adorned with vibrantly colored feathers. Small contends that he submitted the appropriate permit and legal documentation necessary for the purchase. Small believed none of the feathers nor species included in the collection were protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Photographs of Small's collection were published in Smithsonian magazine in 2000. Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service later claimed several pictures showed feathers from endangered species, including the Scarlet Macaw, Harpy Eagle and Roseate Spoonbill. Possession of a collection with such feathers constitutes a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act. Small, who was hired for the Smithsonian position because of his management rather than research skills, argued he had no prior knowledge that some of the feathers came from endangered bird species, and that he sought and acquired the proper documentation for the purchase. Assistant U.S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan, however, contended Small could not have been an uninformed buyer because of the extensive amount of research he already performed with regard to the art and the time he spent in South America. Small, responding to the charges against him, commented, "I can state categorically that I [had] no knowledge that any species in the collection [was] listed under the Endangered Species Act or that [I] imported any pieces in the collection other than in a lawful manner."
Small pled guilty to federal misdemeanor charges related to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in January 2004. His position with the Smithsonian was unaffected, but Small was sentenced to two years probation, required to perform 100 hours of community service and submit a letter of apology to five national publications as a result of the incident. Small had hoped to read books on endangered species and to lobby Congress to alter the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as his community service. Instead, in June, 2005, a federal judge ordered Small to perform physical labor on a "project or projects designed to improve the natural environment."
Sources: Washington Post (January 21, 2004; January 22, 2004; January 24, 2004), Associated Press (January 26, 2004), The Washington Examiner (August 1, 2005), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Archaeology Magazine (September 19, 2002)
**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.
Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**