Friday, September 23, 2005

HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED how politicians choose names for laws that imply they do exactly the opposite of what they really do? Like "No Child Left Behind" which, if the title were descriptive of what the legislation actually did, would be called "No School Left Standing."

Well, a rewritten version of the 32-year-old Endangered Species Act has just been approved by the House Resources Committee, and already the committee chair, Richard W. Pombo, is saying the changes will strengthen protections for endangered species, when in reality they will greatly weaken those protections.

Setting the stage for the most sweeping restructuring of endangered species protections in three decades, the House Resources Committee yesterday approved legislation that would strengthen the hand of private property owners and make it harder for federal officials to set aside large swaths of habitat for imperiled plants and animals.

Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.), who has sought to revamp the Endangered Species Act for more than a decade, said the bill would make the landmark 32-year-old law more effective.

"The whole underlying premise of what we're trying to do is recover species," Pombo said, adding that his measure would ensure "individual property owners are not forced to shoulder the financial burden of conserving endangered species for all Americans."

That last paragraph has a schizoid quality to it, doesn't it? The second part of the quote contradicts the first part, and reveals the true purpose of the legislation.

And it doesn't even make sense. If property owners are to be sheltered from having their property, or parts of it, federalized to save endangered species that use said property owner's land, then it's those individual property owners who will be most directly affected by the environmental consequences of a species going extinct. So it's actually "all Americans" who are shouldering the financial burden of conserving endangered species for a relatively small group of large landowners.

But I'm willing to shoulder that burden. Oh, not for that one property owner. Let's just say I'm willing to do it for the sake of the web of life.

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