The Endangered Species Act: reviewing the nexus of science and policy

féileacán/Flickr

Article Highlights

  • In 40 years since #EPA has been enacted, only 1% of the targeted species have been recovered.

    Tweet This

  • Saving endangered species should be more important than saving the Endangered Species Act.

    Tweet This

  • The truth behind the Endangered Species Act

    Tweet This

The Endangered Species Act: Reviewing the Nexus of Science and Policy

Download PDF
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this subcommittee, for the invitation to testify regarding the nexus of science and policy under the Endangered Species Act. My name is Jonathan H. Adler, and I am the Johan Verheij Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where I teach several courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law.

"Saving endangered species should be more important than saving the Endangered Species Act." --Jonathan AdlerI particularly appreciate the opportunity to testify today about the Endangered Species Act (ESA). I have researched and written on environmental law and policy for over twenty years, and have conducted a significant amount of research on the ESA and species conservation generally. My work on the ESA includes an award-winning article, Money or Nothing: The Adverse Environmental Consequences of Uncompensated Land-Use Controls, 49 BOSTON COLLEGE LAW REVIEW 301 (2008), and a recently published book, Rebuilding the Ark: New Perspectives on Endangered Species Act Reform (AEI Press, 2011). I've drawn upon this work in preparing this testimony.

The ESA is among the nation's most important and powerful environmental laws. It is also a source of great conflict and controversy. There is little question that species conservation is an important and worthwhile endeavor. Regrettably, there are many reasons to question whether the ESA effectively serves that goal. The Act has likely helped prevent some species from going extinct, but the Act endeavors to do more. There is very little evidence the Act helps species recover from the brink of extinction and increasing evidence that the ESA itself creates incentives that undermine sound environmental stewardship and politicize scientific inquiry.

The listing of individual species, the designation of critical habitat and the implementation of conservation measures often prompt fierce legal and political battles. Sound science is often a casualty in these conflicts as the combatants twist and manipulate the available scientific evidence to support predetermined policy preferences. Activists on all sides claim that "sound science" supports their respective positions, and scoff at the "junk science" relied upon by the other side. In actual fact, what often divides the respective camps is not a devotion to science, but sharply divergent policy preferences dressed up in scientific garb. The political debate over the use of science under the ESA tends to obscure the dividing line between science and policy and undermines the development of more effective and equitable conservation strategies.

Jonathan Adler is a National Research Initiative author of Rebuilding the Ark: New Perspectives on Endangered Species Act Reform

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

Making Ryan's tax plan smarter
image The teacher evaluation confronts the future
image How to reform the US immigration system
image Inversion hysteria
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 01
    MON
  • 02
    TUE
  • 03
    WED
  • 04
    THU
  • 05
    FRI
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
From anarchy to Augustus: Lessons on dealing with disorder, from Rome’s first emperor

We invite you to join us for two panel discussions on how Augustus created order from chaos 2,000 years ago, and what makes for durable domestic and international political systems in the 21st century.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Multiple choice: Expanding opportunity through innovation in K–12 education

Please join us for a book launch event and panel discussion about how a marketplace of education options can help today's students succeed in tomorrow's economy. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the featured book.

Thursday, September 04, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
How conservatives can save the safety net

Please join us for a luncheon event in which our panel will discuss what conservatives can learn from how liberals talk and think about the safety net and where free-market economics, federalism, and social responsibility intersect to lift people out of poverty.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.