One of the few times when lawmakers were almost totally in agreement occurred in 1973 when the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. There were zero opposed in the Senate and only 4 in the House of Representatives. Due to the signing of that law, nearly 99 percent of the 1,600 listed species have been saved from extinction.
Some of the greatest success stories are the bald eagle, the gray whale, the American alligator and the grizzly bear. All have all been pulled from the edge of extinction. Unfortunately, there may be changes that would severely limit the chances of some species being rescued from that fate. Some proposed changes by the current administration would amount to putting a price tag on the cost of lives that may be hanging in the balance. They would also restrict protections on those plants and animals that would have previously been considered threatened.
The proposed changes are welcome news to those companies and individuals who believe that this law infringes on the rights of private landowners and the ability to develop land for energy exploration. Now, rather than relying on scientific researchers to decide whether a species could face danger of extinction based on human activity, the economic costs of protecting a plant or animal would also figure into the equation.
If it is determined that the costs of instituting safeguards would override the perceived benefit of preserving a habitat, then the plant or animal would not be protected. The administration claims that revising the law would permit landowners to act in their own best interests which would supposedly benefit the environment in the long run. Many groups, such as the homebuilders Association, is throwing its support behind the revisions as it claims that the role of government should never intrude upon the rights of property owners.
On the flip side, there have been organizations that have attempted to use the Act to their own advantage to stop planned projects. The concept of “Not in My Backyard” has lead to abuses of the Act in the past. There are some who are calling for a compromise if the law is going to be changed. Scientists and other interested parties have touted the idea that property owners be offered incentives to take action on their own to protect a potentially endangered or threatened species through tax breaks or other advantages.
At the end of the day, the greater issue is whether we, as good stewards of the planet, need to give more consideration to economic benefits or do we place the value of life first? As a species, humans tend to have an affinity for animal life. Maybe, just the idea that other animals are allowed to thrive and live in peace should be reward enough. The idea that future generations may get the opportunity to see a majestic eagle flying free should be all of the benefit we need to protect all life.
Writer Bio: Angela Mose
I am a mom of 7 who has successfully homeschooled for 20 years. I was married for more than 25 years and have recently started my life over. I have a passion for writing and music and when the two can be combined, it is utopia. A Maryland native, I am planning to relocate north in the near future and will continue to strive to learn and experience new things on a regular basis. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home while exploring new ways to increase my knowledge and skills and help improve the lives of those around me.