ESA

Abuse of the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed with good intentions, but in practice it has many problems. The ESA actually encourages private property owners to rid their properties of endangered species and their habitats because of the restrictions in beneficial use the Act imposes on property owners. The ESA is very expensive to taxpayers (regulatory costs exceed $1.2 billion per year). Besides trampling on property rights, the ESA destroys industries (remember the timber industry in the northwest?).

The ESA is easy to “game,” a characteristic that radical environmental groups take full advantage of through their “sue and settle” tactics. According to attorney Karen Budd-Falen, “Species are listed by a petition process, which means that anyone can send a letter to the federal government asking that a species, either plant or animal, be put on the ESA list. The federal government has 90 days to respond to that petition, no matter how frivolous. If the federal government fails to respond in 90 days, the petitioner – in the vast majority of cases, radical environmental groups – can file litigation against the federal government and get its attorneys fees paid. The simple act of filing litigation does not mean the species will get listed or that it is warranted to be protected; this litigation is only over whether the federal government failed to respond to the petition in 90 days. Between 2000 and 2009, in just 12 states and the District of Columbia, 14 environmental groups filed 180 federal court complaints to get species listed under the ESA and were paid $11,743,287 in attorneys fees and costs.” The act of responding to lawsuits causes government biologists to spend much less time on conservation work.

An example of this tactic was published last Monday by ADI in their article: “Absurd Sue And Settle Lawsuit Launched To Protect Borderlands Moth.” (Link) “Serial litigators, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, and Patagonia Area Resource Alliance filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Patagonia eyed silkmoth under the Endangered Species Act.”

In my opinion, while these enviros are gaming the system for money, their main purpose is to stop development of new mines in the Patagonia Mountains of Southern Arizona. These properties have the potential to become a major source of lead, zinc, and silver, and the only U.S. source of manganese.

See related stories:

New Zinc-lead-silver mineral deposit discovered in SE Arizona

Silver project may become only US source of manganese

The other major problem with the Endangered Species Act is that, through bureaucratic bungling and bad science, the ESA is particularly poor at recovering endangered species.

The Heritage Foundation has recently published an assessment of the Endangered Species Act entitled: Correcting Falsely “Recovered” and Wrongly Listed Species and Increasing Accountability and Transparency in the Endangered Species Program by Robert Gordon (Read full report)

Abstract

Numerous administrative actions should be taken to correct the record of species that are falsely claimed to have “recovered” and that have been declared endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) using erroneous data. It is crucial to improve implementation, accountability, and transparency in the administration of the ESA. The recommendations and information here will help correct the record, provide guidance as to some of the species that may be suitable for delisting on the grounds of data error or extinction, improve the likelihood that future delistings are appropriately categorized, eliminate unnecessary regulations and further waste, and ensure scarce conservation dollars are better spent.

In five years the Endangered Species Act will reach the half-century milestone—and yet only 40 U.S. species have graduated from the program as “recovered,” slightly less than one species per year. If not one more bird, beetle, or bear were added to the list of federally endangered animals and plants and somehow species recovered at 10 times that rate, it would take well over a century and-a-half to work through the current list.

There is, however, no indication that the list of regulated species will stop growing. Even worse, almost half of the “recovered” species—18 of 40— are federally funded fiction. They were never really endangered; like many species that remain on the endangered list, they were mistakes. With all the ESA’s costs and burdens, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fabricating success stories to cover up this unsustainable mess and substituting fluff for statutorily required reporting regarding the recovery program.

 

My opinion: It is time to consider repealing the ESA and replacing it with a more effective system that encourages conservation with positive incentives.

 

Related:

Endangered Species paperwork to cost $206,098,920

Endangered species act could halt American energy boom

Endangered Species Act administration changes bode ill for property rights

Endangered species listings based on questionable science and lack of independent review

Repeal the Endangered Species Act

Rosemont and the Cuckoo scam

Arizona Game & Fish Department against critical habitat for jaguar

Pygmy owls and property rights

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Endangered Species Act administration changes bode ill for property rights

Since 2012, the Obama administration has relaxed requirements of the Endangered Species Act to make designation of “Critical Habitat” easier for the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). This is achieved by changing some definitions and by relaxing scientific standards. This will result in more areas being designated as “Critical Habitat” and impose more restrictions on private property, grazing, and mineral exploration and development.

Details of these changes are discussed in a memorandum by attorney Karen Budd-Falen. Here are the main points of that memo:

Previously “Critical Habitat” was confined to the area where a species was in trouble. Under the new policy, the entire range of the species will now be included, even areas where the species is not in trouble.

“Critical Habitat” will be expanded to include areas where the species does not now exist, but might inhabit that area at some unspecified time in the future. (An example of this is the proposed designation of “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar in large areas of Arizona and New Mexico even though jaguars do not occupy the area.)

Species listing and designation of critical habitat are supposed to be based on the “best scientific and commercial data available.” Now, principles of conservation biology are also included. Budd-Falen notes that many scientists describe conservation biology as “agenda driven” and “goal-oriented” biology.

FWS will no longer publish text or detailed land descriptions of the proposed “Critical Habitat.” They will publish small maps in the Federal Register. This will make it difficult for landowners to determine if their property is included.

FWS is no longer required to consider whether areas should be excluded from “Critical Habitat” based on economic costs and burdens.

Budd-Falen notes that these changes may cause normal operations of a farm or ranch to result in a “take” of an endangered species under the law. Also, as the farmers in California’s Central Valley found out, they were not able to divert water for crop irrigation because it was “needed” for downstream fish in a designated “Critical Habitat.”

Read entire memo

Related:

Repeal the Endangered Species Act

Endangered species listings based on questionable science and lack of independent review

Are Mexican wolves in Arizona actually wolf-dog hybrids?

A recent Arizona Daily Independent article notes that Arizona Game & Fish intends to sue the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) alleging that the FWS recovery plan is out of date and fails to use the best available science. “Without an updated plan that includes recovery criteria, the Mexican Wolf will remain on the Endangered Species list in perpetuity. To make matters worse, a recent proposal to increase the geographic boundaries for the Mexican Wolf will result in huge swaths of lands becoming blocked off for other uses and in most cases prevent things like energy extraction, mining, timber harvesting and various other forms of economic development.”

There is another issue: there is some evidence that the captive bred and wild Mexican wolves in Arizona are actually wolf-dog hybrids or wolf-coyote hybrids which would make them ineligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association (SACPA) has archived correspondence regarding this question at http://www.sacpaaz.org/news_education/dna-question/. I will summarize the material.

Besides wild caught wolves, there are three lineages for Arizona Mexican wolves included in the FWS captive breeding program named the ”Ghost Ranch,” “Aragon,” and “Certified” lineages. These are the animals that FWS is releasing into the wild.

The first item in the SACPA archive is a letter dated June 2, 1997, to the FWS from Roy McBride, the person who captured five of the foundational wild Mexican wolves from which the FWS experimental population descended.

Mr. McBride writes that it was the conclusion of the original recovery team that all members of the Ghost Ranch lineage were wolf-dog hybrids, and that he is “shocked” that these wolves were to be included in the captive breeding program. “This was the primary factor behind the decision to seek and capture the remaining wild population, because it was the only pure genetic stock available.” The Ghost Ranch animals were from a private zoo in Carlsbad, N.M. and upon inspection, Mr. McBride had no doubt that these animals were hybrids.

FWS responded that a review of data by a “genetics committee” concluded, in 1994, that all three lines, Certified, Aragon, and Ghost Ranch, were pure Mexican wolves.

The second item is a history of the captive breeding program written in 1986 by Jack B. Woody. At the time of that writing the Mexican wolf was “presumed to be extinct in the United States.”
Woody notes that at the time, there was no taxonomic means of assigning an individual wolf to the Mexican wolf subspecies (Canis lupus baileyi). He also notes that the skulls of the Ghost Ranch lineage have definite characteristics of dogs. Woody says it is unclear whether this trait is due to hybridization or the effects of inbreeding. The genetic base of the captive breeding program is only four wild-caught wolves.

Item three is a summary from the Mexican Wolf stud book, 1987. This report notes some problems with inbreeding.

Item four is a partial transcript from Symposio Sobre Lobo Mexicano, which reported on field investigations of Mexican wolves in northern Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The study shows that the Mexican wolf population in Arizona is transient.

Item five discusses the ancestry and distribution of Mexican wolves in the Southwest. The pedigrees of the founding members of the three captive bred families is murky. This paper suggests that members of at least two of the three lines had some dog-like characteristics.

Item six is a concise fact sheet listing the origins of the three wolf lineages:

The “Certified” lineage was established from one female and two male wild-caught wolves.
The origin of the original “Ghost Ranch” female is unknown. The original male was probably a wolf-dog hybrid according to reports documented at the time. The founders of the “Aragon” lineage were obtained from the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City, but the lineage is unknown.

A new paper published in November, 2014, studied the genetics of wolves in North America. The paper is:

Cronin et al., 2014, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) Variation of Wolves (Canis lupus) in Southeast Alaska and Comparison with Wolves, Dogs, and Coyotes in North America, Journal of Heredity, doi:10.1093/jhered/esu075.

This paper says that the so-called Mexican wolf is not a valid sub-species; rather it is a hybrid with coyotes and possibly with dogs.

Here is how the paper’s authors put it:

“Our data and those of vonHoldt et al. (2011) also show SNP differentiation of Mexican wolves (C. l. baileyi) from other North American wolves. However, extant and historic samples show
that Mexican wolves lack mtDNA monophyly, share haplotypes with wolves in other areas and with coyotes, (Leonard et al. 2005; Hailer and Leonard 2008), and extant Mexican wolves came from only 7 founders that may have included dog ancestry (although genetic data indicate this is improbable and/or of small genetic importance, García-Moreno et al. 1996; Hedrick et al. 1997). These factors indicate that designation of a Mexican wolf subspecies is of questionable validity. Indeed, North American wolf subspecies in general are questionable and have been described as arbitrary, typological, and an inter-grading series of populations (Wayne and Vilá 2003 and references therein)…This indicates there is unwarranted taxonomic inflation of wildlife subspecies designations similar to unwarranted species designations.”

It appears from these data that FWS is trying to establish a recovery program for an animal that is not a valid species, contrary to the Endangered Species Act.

See also:

Wolf attacks on humans in North America

Free the Land from the Feds

The federal government owns more than 623 million acres of land, mostly in the western states. The recent defense spending bill included designation of new National Parks, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Heritage areas. How much land is enough?

Most federal land is administered by four agencies: the Bureau of Land management, 258.2 million acres; the Forest Service, 193 million acres; the Fish & Wildlife Service, 93 million acres; and the National Park Service, 79 million acres. Other federal land ownership includes military bases and land held in trust for Indian reservations. The map below shows the concentration of federal lands in the west.

Western federa lands

The State of Utah wants 31.2 million acres of its land back. “In an unprecedented challenge to federal dominance of Western state lands, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012 signed the ‘Transfer of Public Lands Act,’ which demands that Washington relinquish its hold on the land, which represents more than half of the state’s 54.3 million acres, by Dec. 31, 2014.” (Washington Times) We are still awaiting the outcome of this probably quixotic endeavor. But it sets a precedent and more western states should take up the quest.

Besides outright ownership, the feds are wreaking havoc on private property rights through the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

In Arizona, for example, the right of Phoenix, the Salt River Project, and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District to divert Colorado River and Salt River water to Phoenix and Tucson is being threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service because those diversions allegedly endanger everything from gila topminnows, and chiricahua leopard frogs, as well as willow flycatchers.

The Town of Tombstone was forbidden to fix part of its water supply after it was destroyed in a forest fire because the source is in a wilderness area. (See Tombstone versus the United States)

The EPA and Corps of Engineers are attempting to expand the definitions in the Clean Water Act to include the most tenuous connection to “navigable waters” that would encompass private irrigation ditches, ponds, and puddles in order to gain more control over private property.

Perhaps the new Congress can address some of these abuses of federal regulations and free the land from Big Brother and allow states and private property owners to put the land to productive use.

See also:

Repeal the Endangered Species Act

Endangered Species paperwork to cost $206,098,920

Endangered species act could halt American energy boom

How NEPA crushes productivity

Endangered species listings based on questionable science and lack of independent review

A report published December 15 by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources finds that Endangered Species listings of 13 species since July, 2013, were based on questionable science, lack of transparency, conflict of interest, and withholding information for public comment.

By law, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires that decisions on whether to list a species as threatened or endangered must be based on the “best scientific and commercial data available.” That has not been the case in many recent listings.

Here are the conclusions from the study:

The Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) claims that the science used to justify ESA listing decisions is the best available science in large part because it has undergone peer review.

Committee Majority oversight staff found numerous documented examples that call into question the independence, transparency, and accountability of the FWS’ peer review process in recent ESA listing decisions. These findings include:

The FWS does not have clear or consistent policies and procedures in place across all Regions to ensure that peer reviewers with potential conflicts of interest are identified and screened.

The FWS generally seeks peer review of its proposed listing decisions at the same time they are made available for public comment, rather than earlier in the process when the peer reviewers may have more meaningful input.

The FWS regularly recruits the same scientists on whose work a listing decision is based to serve as peer reviewers, rather than truly independent scientists without any obvious connection to the species under review.

The FWS uses scientists as peer reviewers who have received grants or other financial assistance from the Department of the Interior and its bureaus and other agencies and who have known policy positions or affiliations with advocacy groups that support the listing decision.

The FWS routinely withholds from the public the identities of peer reviewers, qualifications of peer reviewers, instructions, and details about their comments.

Notwithstanding the myriad policies and guidance documents that the FWS has in place, the inconsistency across FWS Regions and overall lack of transparency about the FWS’ peer review process make it difficult for the public to assess the independence of those serving as peer reviewers and the merits of their comments or the FWS’ responses. Rather, the peer review process as currently employed by the FWS relies on a network of scientists who, if nothing else, have a professional and academic interest in the outcome of the ESA listing decisions they are being asked to review.
In recruiting peer reviewers, the FWS appears to favor scientists whose views on a species are already well known rather than more independent scientists in other academic or professional fields who would be able to bring a fresh perspective to the science the FWS is citing to support its ESA listing decisions.

Whether this approach to peer review is a result of the time and resource pressures the FWS itself has created because of the multi-species litigation deadlines settlements it has entered into with environmental groups, or other reasons, is murky, much like the details of the individual peer reviews being conducted by the FWS.

The report is entitled, “Under the Microscope: An examination of the questionable science and lack of independent peer review in Endangered Species Act listing decisions

This finding has implications for the renewed effort to list the (alleged) Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl in southern Arizona.

Arizona Game and Fish Department against critical habitat for jaguar

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), asks that FWS withdraw its proposal for establishing critical habitat for the jaguar in Arizona and New Mexico “because conservation of the species is entirely reliant on activities in the jaguar’s primary habitat of Central and South America to be successful. Lands in Arizona and New Mexico make up less than one percent of the species’ historic range and are not essential to the conservation of the species.”

Arizona Game and Fish also said in a press release:

“The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal considers jaguar occurrence from 1962 to 2011. All of the available information from that time frame and even decades before consistently indicates that Arizona does not provide habitat that is critical to jaguar conservation.”

“The sanctity of the ESA is put at risk when litigious groups misuse legal terms to gain more control of wildlife conservation and public lands. Their maneuvers undermine the true intent of the act and jeopardize the public’s support for wildlife conservation.”

“Game and Fish believes that the unwarranted designation of critical habitat for jaguars would likely result in denial of access to lands for jaguar conservation and research efforts; fewer observations of jaguars being reported; less timely sighting reports from people that do choose to report a jaguar; and, an increased likelihood of illegal activities which undermine endangered species conservation.”

This was the right decision. We have yet to see if FWS will base their ruling on science or politics.

See also:

Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science

Proposed Jaguar habitat in Arizona and New Mexico is scientifically and legally indefensible

Jaguars versus the Rosemont mine

Jaguars versus the Rosemont mine

JaguarThe U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) will seek public comment on its proposal to designate “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar in Southern Arizona and New Mexico. USFWS had previously determined that Critical Habitat “for the jaguar in the United States would not be prudent.” However, an Arizona District Court found that the previous decision was “not legally sufficient.”

The proposal is not scientifically sufficient either. Two years ago I wrote:

A Freedom of Information Act inquiry has revealed that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service decision to declare portions of Arizona and New Mexico as “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar has no basis in fact. USFWS based its decision on unsubstantiated anecdotal stories that did not meet the Endangered Species Act definition of minimum scientific standards. The inquiry also found possible collusion between an employee of the Arizona Fish and Game Department and the Center for Biological Diversity. The report of the inquiry was written by Biologist/Attorney Dennis Parker.

Read the rest of that story in my article: Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science. At the time that story was written the USFWS claimed that designation of “Critical Habitat” was “prudent”, i.e., it was prudent before it was not prudent and now it is prudent again.

FWS is now proposing “Critical Habitat” again. From a FWS press release:

The Service has identified 838,232 acres in six units in primarily mountainous portions of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that will be considered for potential critical habitat. These include 547,000 acres of Federal land; 111,741 acres of State of Arizona land; 76,329 acres of Tribal land; and 103,143 acres of private lands. Critical habitat designations have no effect on actions taking place on non-federal lands unless proposed activities involve federal funding or permitting.

I wonder if collecting Social Security payments would be considered “federal funding” and trigger the bureaucratic implications on private land.

The proposed Rosemont copper mine would be directly impacted by “Critical Habitat” designation because the mine site occurs in the northern end of the designated lands (see map from the Arizona Daily Star below).

The Rosemont mine’s footprint is about 4,400 acres according to the Arizona Daily Star. That’s 0.5% of the whole area. Is that half percent really critical? The portion of habitat occupied by the mine is broken in four places by highways. The Arizona Daily Star notes that the proposed “Critical Habitat” “includes areas known to have been occupied by jaguars since 1962, or land considered essential for the animal even if jaguars haven’t been seen there in recent decades.”

So, if jaguars haven’t been seen for decades, how “critical” is the land? In the last twenty years, there have been about a half dozen jaguar sightings throughout Southern Arizona and all those sightings have been of male jaguars. It is obvious that Southern Arizona is not breeding ground for jaguars. Those few male jaguars have wandered north from their main breeding areas in Mexico. Southern Arizona is obviously not “critical” to jaguar breeding.

I find it curious that the proposed “Critical Habitat” includes the Rosemont site, the site of mineral exploration farther south near Patagonia, and the water source for the City of Tombstone, but does not include the Chiricahua Mountains farther to the east near the New Mexico portion of proposed habitat. According to the National Park Service, “The Chiricahua mountains were also historically the home of the jaguar.” Of course, there are no known economic mineral deposits in the Chiricahua Mountains.  That makes it look like the radical environmentalists and USFWS are targeting potentially productive land to make them off limits.

Another question: How will designation of “Critical Habitat” affect border security?

The jaguar’s range extends through Mexico, Central America, and much of South America.  A few thousand acres in Arizona will not make a difference to the species as a whole.  This whole jaguar issue shows how the Endangered Species Act can be abused.  ESA should be repealed.

This “Critical Habitat” proposal is scientifically unjustified. It is just another green utopian obstacle placed in the path of job creation and beneficial use of the land.

Jaguar-critical-habitat

 

Climate Change and Biodiversity

Climate alarmists have claimed that global warming will cause massive species extinctions. The geologic record shows the opposite. As “climate change” itself loses traction, green extremists are switching to “biodiversity” as the next bogeyman. The U.N. is launching its “International Year of Biodiversity.” But the current wildlife extinction rate is the lowest in 500 years according to the UN’s own World Atlas of Biodiversity. Environmental groups are beginning to use the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as an excuse to control carbon dioxide emissions. Perhaps the first species to be listed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) on speculation of the effects of global warming is the polar bear.

On May 14, 2008, FWS listed the polar bear as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), based on the supposition that carbon dioxide emissions are melting the bear’s Arctic habitat.

In 2007, just prior to listing, the Arctic sea ice reached the lowest level recorded since 1979 when satellites began tracking the ice. However, that same year, Antarctic sea ice reached the maximum extent ever recorded. Did you hear about that?

The Department of the Interior press release on the polar bear claimed, “The listing is based on the best available science, which shows that loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten polar bear habitat. This loss of habitat puts polar bears at risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future, the standard established by the ESA for designating a threatened species.” Really? Environmental groups are suing to force FWS to upgrade the listing to “endangered.”

The FWS listing is based on computer projections and false assumptions. An article in Science Daily claims, “Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed…” People who live in the Arctic know that polar bear populations have been increasing, mainly due to changes in hunting regulations. Native Inuit hunters say that “The growing population has become ‘a real problem,’especially over the last 10 years.”

The polar bear has been around for a very long time and somehow survived conditions that were warmer than now and warmer than computer projections. It is also telling that the Canadian government, which oversees 14 of the 19 polar bear populations, has not listed the bear as “threatened” or “endangered.” The Alaska Department of Fish & Game opposed the listing claiming that FWS did not use the best available science and that FWS cherry-picked models, choosing only those which supported their case. Alaska fish & game says that polar bear populations “are abundant, stable, and unthreatened by direct human activity.”

FWS has a Climate Change Strategic Plan which is based largely on reports from the now discredited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (See my posts The Assumed Authority, and IPCC and Peer Review.)

 Real, on the ground, research into the relationship between global warming, species extinction, and biodiversity paints a picture very different from the speculative computer models. Abundant research shows that warming increases the range for most terrestrial plants and animals, and for most marine creatures. Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes plants more water efficient and more robust. For an introduction to this research seehttp://www.co2science.org/images/pdf/extinction.pdf “The Specter of Species Extinction, Will Global Warming Decimate Earth’s Biosphere?” That report concludes:

The CO2-induced global warming extinction hypothesis claims that as the world warms in response to the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content, many species of plants and animals will not be able to migrate either poleward in latitude or upward in elevation fast enough to avoid extinction as they try to escape the stress imposed by the rising temperature. With respect to plants, however, we have shown that as long as the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration rises in tandem with its temperature, most of them will not “feel the heat,” as their physiology will change in ways that make them better adapted to warmer conditions. Hence, although earth’s plants will likely spread poleward and upward at the cold-limited boundaries of their ranges in response to a warming-induced opportunity to do so, their heat-limited boundaries will probably remain pretty much as they are now or shift only slightly. Consequently, in a world of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration, the ranges of most of earth’s plants will likely expand if the planet continues to warm, making plant extinctions even less likely than they are currently.

Animals should react much the same way. In response to concurrent increases in atmospheric temperature and CO2 concentration, they will likely migrate poleward and upward, where cold temperatures prevented them from going in the past, as they follow earth’s plants. Also as with earth’s plants, the heat-limited boundaries of their ranges should in many cases be little affected, as has been observed in several of the real-world studies that have been wrongly cited as providing evidence for impending species extinctions, or their entire ranges may simply shift with the rising temperature, as has been observed in many real-world studies of marine ecosystems.

To summarize, both theory and observation paint the same picture. A goodly portion of earth’s plants and animals should actually expand their ranges and gain a stronger foothold on the planet as the atmosphere’s temperature and CO2 concentration continue to rise. If the air’s CO2 content were suddenly to stop increasing, however, the biosphere could find itself facing a significant challenge, as the world’s plants would cease acquiring the extra physiological protection against heat stress that is afforded them by rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Consequently, the end result of curtailing anthropogenic CO2 emissions might well be just the opposite of what many people are hoping to accomplish by encouraging that policy, i.e., many species might actually be driven to extinction, rather than being saved from such a fate.

For even more information, go to www.CO2Science.org and look in their subject index under “extinction.” There you will find reviews of the scientific literature based on real world observations. This research, as well as geologic history, show that a warmer world increases biodiversity. Habitat destruction from other causes is a separate issue.

Looking at the greater geologic record, we see that major extinctions are associated with ice ages and other cooling events. After each ice age, as the planet warmed, life rebounded with more speciation and greater biodiversity. The geologic record also shows that the “normal” temperature of this planet (when we are not in an ice age, or an interglacial period of an ice age) is about 18 degrees F warmer than now (see chart in this post). Even in our current interglacial period, warm cycles have been up to 10 degrees F warmer than now and we have not seen massive extinctions. (The megafauna extinction of about 10,000 years ago was associated with a rapid cooling period, the Younger Dryas.) The hot and steamy Cretaceous Period saw the development of flowering plants and a great increase in biodiversity.

It seems that the Fish & Wildlife Service is following a political agenda based on junk science.

(For another example of FWS junk science see, Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science)

Note to the Next Congress

Whatever the outcome of today’s election, Congress members, and even you soon-to-be “lame ducks” should consider why public opinion of Congress is at an all-time low. I have some suggestions.

1) Read the Constitution, too many of you are ignorant of what it says or ignore what it says. Check especially Article I, Section 8.

2) Read and understand the implications of all bills before you vote on them. Remember who you work for.

3) Reduce spending and the deficit by sticking to your Constitutional mandate.

4) Stop subsidizing “green energy.” It is too expensive and uses funds that could be put to more productive use. For instance, for electrical generation, the EIA calculated costs in dollars per megawatthour as follows: Conventional coal power: $100.40; Natural gas: $83.10; Nuclear: $119.00; Onshore wind power: $149.30; Offshore wind power: $191.10; Thermal solar power: $256.60, Photo-voltaic solar power: $396.10.

5) Remove restrictions to natural resource development. The U.S. must re-industrialize and use our own natural resources. Currently 80% of GDP is in service industries rather than manufacturing which means we redistribute wealth rather than create it.

6) Repeal “Obamacare.” It is too complicated and too expensive. Base health care insurance on the HMO concept for Medicare/Medicaid recipients. Allow insurance companies to compete nationally, and remove all plan restrictions on client choice of healthcare providers. All plans should contain a menu of coverage choices, and if people want more than the subsidized coverage, then they pay the extra premium. Allow similar plans for younger people, to be paid by the client. Remember the concept of basic insurance is to pay for unaffordable expenses.

7) Get real on climate change. There is nothing you can do about it. Mother Nature ignores legislation. No one, not even the IPCC, has demonstrated a significant cause and effect relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature.

8) Rein in or even eliminate the EPA; it is a den of junk science.

9) Repeal or greatly modify the Endangered Species Act; it provides no positive incentive for conservation, it tramples on property rights, it destroys industries, it is very expensive, and it is ineffective. (See my analysis: Repeal the Endangered Species Act.

10) Restore the “Bush” tax cuts.

11) Go through every federal agency to eliminate wasteful spending and fraud.

12) Secure our borders from illegal entry and smuggling, and provide a realistic, monitored system for temporary workers.

It is the responsibility of each member of Congress to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Do your duty.

Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science

JaguarA Freedom of Information Act inquiry has revealed that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to declare portions of Arizona and New Mexico as “Critical Habitat” for the jaguar has no basis in fact. USFWS based its decision on unsubstantiated anecdotal stories that did not meet the Endangered Species Act definition of minimum scientific standards. The inquiry also found possible collusion between an employee of the Arizona Fish and Game Department and the Center for Biological Diversity. The report of the inquiry was written by Biologist/Attorney Dennis Parker. Here is the press release:

 

“GROUPS CHARGE CORRUPTION, JUNK SCIENCE BEHIND EXPANDED JAGUAR PROTECTIONS IN ARIZONA & NEW MEXICO.”

In a recent letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) the Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association (SACPA), the Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties, the Pima Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD), the Whitewater Draw NRCD, and People for the West strongly urged the agency to reverse its decision that critical habitat is “prudent” for jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico. The letter shows that under the ESA, and based solely on the best science available, habitat “essential” to the jaguar’s existence does not exist in the United States. Furthermore, studies have proven that well managed livestock grazing poses no threat to jaguars or their habitat.

“The Department of Interior just announced a new policy favoring sound science over political misconduct,” said SACPA president Cindy Coping. “To honor their own policy the USFWS must reverse their unsound but politically fashionable decision that won’t help the jaguar and does threaten to destroy hundreds of rural jobs in two states.”

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiry revealed that the agency’s decision relied heavily on a 2005 conference presentation that lacked supporting data and fails to meet the ESA definition of minimum scientific standards.

Another public records search revealed that an employee of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) authorized a $999.99 payment to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to create a jaguar habitat model for New Mexico. The CBD’s model was a substitute for, and produced conclusions far different from, the sound scientific conclusions already published by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The CBD had a then recent history of publishing maliciously false information about endangered species and livestock grazing. That charge, proven in court, was already a matter of widespread public knowledge when the AGFD employee engaged the CBD to produce a substitute habitat model for New Mexico.

“The payment itself, one cent below the level we understand requires Commission approval, raises serious questions about the AGFD employee’s intentions,” Coping said. “These issues involve authority and abuse of such, improper bias, conflict of interest, and the unprecedented extraterritorial extension of AGFD authority over the State of New Mexico,” wrote Dennis Parker, the wildlife biologist/attorney who authored the comments.” These facts alone warrant suspension of any critical habitat designation for the jaguar in the United States until this serious situation is fully investigated and explained,” he added. At least two of the supposed “verified” jaguars mentioned in the Arizona habitat models were likely not naturally occurring, but rather, animals of foreign origin captured and imported into the United States for the purpose of “guaranteed” hunting. At least 9 such imported jaguars were introduced into New Mexico in 1972 and 1973 alone, including at least one female that escaped. Recent journal published studies from Brazil prove that both the range and numbers of jaguars expanded where domestic livestock were introduced, due to the more dependable prey base. In fact, Brazilian cattle ranches support the highest densities and numbers of jaguars found anywhere. Moreover, both the historic and the recent record of transient jaguar occurrences in the Southwest indicate that modern, highly controlled livestock grazing poses no threat to the few jaguars that sometimes wander across the Mexican border onto neighboring Arizona and New Mexico ranchlands.

All of the citizen organizations represented in the carefully documented letter sent to the USFWS care deeply about the management of landscapes in Arizona and New Mexico where ranching has been and continues to be the dominant land use keeping habitat largely intact and undeveloped for more than 300 years.

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For more information, please contact Cindy Coping, SACPA president, at (303) 905-4041.

Read the full 15-page report here.

Some excerpts from the report:

“While one transient male jaguar, Macho B, did roam the borderlands of Arizona and Sonora for more than a decade until last year, his extensive travels prior to his death indicates he was having a difficult time surviving in this dry, rugged region. Moreover, his persistent presence in the borderlands was also artificially induced by the placement of female jaguar scent (in the form of scat of captive females in season) at camera locations on the United States side of the boundary with Mexico.”

“Finally, if Arizona and New Mexico actually qualified as critical habitat, or habitat “essential” to the existence of the jaguar as a species, then both common sense and objective science would necessarily demand that, at a minimum, female jaguars be shown to reside in those States. The facts conclusively show that they do not and that no female jaguar has been shown to occur in Arizona, even on a highly questionable and suspect basis, since 1963. The facts also reveal that no [wild] female jaguar has been verified to have occurred in New Mexico — ever.”

This is just one more example of why we should Repeal the Endangered Species Act.