Ted Cruz's radical new idea for overhauling the Endangered Species Act


Many Republicans have complained about the Endangered Species Act (ESA). If an animal on the endangered species act list is found on your property, the value of your land, for development purposes, goes to zero.

But Ted Cruz has announced an innovative solution to revamp the ESA. Speaking at the Conservative Leadership Project (at about the 21 minute mark) in South Carolina, Cruz said that the ESA actually causes more animals on the list to be killed. If a property owner sees an animal on the ESA on his property, the property owner's incentives are to eliminate the animals quietly before they are discovered. The ESA, therefore, gives property owners a perverse incentive to kill animals on the list because the penalty for complying with the law is so harsh. In the meantime, the ESA has severely hampered the ability of property owners to make a living from their land:

Farmers in California suffered a terrible draught that scorched their land because the Obama Administration allowed the USFWS to channel water away from their farm in an effort to protect the delta smelt, a California fish.

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The protection of prairie dogs in Utah has meant that homeowners have no legal means of protecting their yards and pastures from the tunneling and burrowing of prairie dogs.

Cattle ranchers in Texas have been hit by many regulations in the past few years, including protection of the Shinnery Oaks their cattle graze on and the Dune Sagebrush Lizard. These efforts significantly limit the value of their land by preventing the ranchers from letting their cattle roam on sections of it.

But Ted Cruz has a different solution. He says the ESA should be reformed to say that if an animal on the ESA list is found on your property, a property owner can still develop the property as long as he undertakes a breeding program to expand the population of the animal in question. And in a critical point, Cruz says that the animal that is found on the property is not automatically entitled to live on the property.

So let's say you have a stream on your property and you have some endangered smelt on it. You can relocate the smelt to another stream, say, perhaps, on Federal lands, and if you can show you increased the population of the smelt, you gain back the right to develop your own land.

Admittedly, this is not a perfect solution because it puts an obligation on a property owner to start an animal breeding program. But it is an avenue, at least, for the property owner to regain the rights to develop his property.

The key point is that just because an animal is found on someone's property, the animal does not have the right to exist there forever. Animals have been moving around since the beginning of time. If an animal is found on one piece of property it shouldn't have a "right" to be there superior to the property owner because, after all, people are supposed to have rights, not animals.

Ted Cruz should be commended for thinking outside the box to create a solution to this kind of all-too-common regulatory taking.



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