By Rich Kozlovich
There was an interesting article that appeared recently, Secrecy hides taxpayer dollars used in Big Green lawsuits, which talked about a monumental task western U.S. farmers face. That is "having a good lawyer on call is more than a routine cost of doing business. " The article notes that; "For thousands of farming and ranching families with leases and grazing rights on public lands in the West, It's an absolute necessity to protect a way of life that has often been handed down for generations."
It goes on to say that; "not only do these hard-working, taxpaying men and women have to pay their own attorneys, they also frequently end up having to help pay the attorneys' fees and other legal costs for Big Green environmental groups." How did this happen?
"Thanks to an obscure federal law known as the Equal Access to Justice Act. In 299 cases….in which nearly $18 million was paid under the EAJA to lawyers for 10 Big Green groups. If that amount seems insignificant, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, estimate that at least $4.7 billion has been paid out of the Judgment Fund under the EAJA since 2003." This has turned out to be pot of green gold for the greenies; at the expense of hard working famlies and the public coffers.
I would like to draw your attention to an article I linked a few days ago from the NRDC, “GOP-Sponsored Bill Would Bar Groups from Enforcing Our Nation's Environmental Laws.”
They certainly paint a nice rosy picture of concern and reason, but the reality is this; they aren’t concerned about being able to hunt and fish, they are concerned with driving people off public lands, and enriching their own coffers at the expense of people who are just trying to make a living, and the greenies absolutly don't want that income stream to end. If this mess is to really be fixed, just sell that land.
Approximately twenty five percent of the land mass of the United States is owned by the federal government and about forty seven percent of the land mass West of the Missisippi River is owned by the federal government. That was never the founding fathers intent, and that should not be allowed to stand.
It isn’t just the fact that these activists can sue; it is the fact that they are allowed to sue to require enforcement. We need to ask; how did these people get this kind of enforcement power? Isn’t that the government’s responsibility?
It all started with the snail darter because in 1972 they “upgraded” ESA with some significant changes. Section 4 and Section 7 contained poisoned pills and no one realized it. Section 4 required the Secretary of the Interior to list any species that was endangered or threatened and defined species as “fish or wildlife or plants” and further refined that definition as “any mammal, fish, bird, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod or other invertebrate.”
Section 7 “prohibited the “take” of any listed species. A “take” means to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect” a listed species. Friends of the Earth stated that the degradation of a listed species habitat would fit the definition of a “take” under the bills.” Everyone seems to have been caught up in the warm and fuzzy feeling because the thinking was clearly fuzzy…no one hardly whispered an objection. One reason is that they were primarily thinking of what is called the “charismatic” species, such as bald eagles, bears, wolves, etc.
The Supreme Court ruling on TVA vs. Hill was the killer though. The TVA (which is owned by the Federal government) wanted to build a dam across the Little Tennessee River known as the Tellico Project, unfortunately half way through construction a previously unknown species of perch known as the snail darter was found….a lot of them….10 to 15 thousand of them.
Is there only one kind of darter? No! There are a lot of darters. There are a lot of varieties of darters. This one happened to like eating snails. It was also inter-bredable with the other darters. It has been noted that the “snail darter may have been a distinct species, but it wasn’t unique and that new species of darter are discovered in Tennessee at a rate of 1 a year. All told, there are some 130 species of darters, 85 to 90 of which are found in Tennessee and 40 to 45 in the Tennessee River system with 11 in the Little Tennessee itself.”
Congress actually had to pass a law excluding this dam from those provisions in order to complete it....at much greater expense than planned as a result of the delays. What do you think happens when they do these kind of things to venture capitalists? Capitalists like farmers, ranchers, loggers, home builders and even just ordinary citizens. They don't have the resources of the federal government to fight these people, and they certainly can't provide relief for themselves as the government did either. That should have been the wakeup call for Congress way back then. Than again, they didn't have a hearing problem. Having little of no backbone has little or nothing to do with hearing.
The environmentalist’s victory regarding DDT gave them unprecedented power and influence, but the decision in TVA v. Hill gave them regulatory authority. Never before have individuals outside of the government been able to “not only advance, but to enforce, wildlife preservation without restraint.”
Property owners face a daunting task against government agents and activists if there should be some type of endangered species of plant or animal on their property. Robert J. Smith wrote that these agents “routinely prevent use of their lands or property, including such activities as harvesting trees, planting crops, grazing cattle, irrigating fields, clearing brush along fence lines, discing firebreaks around homes and barns, or building a home.“ Even Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director, Sam D. Hamilton recognizes that because of the ESA effect “The incentives are wrong here. If I have a rare metal n my property, its value goes up. But if a rare bird occupies the land, its value disappears.”
These lawsuits are nothing more than government sanctioned extortion.
You may wish to read the following articles.
ESA Outrages, Part I
ESA Outrages, Part II
ESA Outrages, Part III