Free Markets, Free People

endangered species

How to destroy property rights in one easy lesson

Give government bureaucracy the power to nullify your ownership rights in the name of a “higher good”.

You’re all familiar with the poly.  The WSJ describes it:

In partnership with green activists, the Department of Interior may attempt one of the largest federal land grabs in modern times, using a familiar vehicle—the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A record 757 new species could be added to the protected list by 2018. The two species with the greatest impact on private development are range birds—the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken, both about the size of a barnyard chicken. The economic stakes are high because of the birds’ vast habitat.

Interior is expected to decide sometime this month whether to list the lesser prairie chicken, which inhabits five western prairie states, as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Meantime, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service are considering land-use amendments to protect the greater sage grouse, which would lay the groundwork for an ESA listing next year.

One of the birds resides mostly on federal land (remember, the federal government owns most of the west of the US).  It is on these lands and the little private land there that the sage grouse is found:

The sage grouse is found in 11 western states—California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Most of the areas affected are federal lands routinely used for farming, ranching, mining, road building, water projects and oil and gas drilling.

Ah, gas drilling.  Well here we go:

Interior’s proposed “land use” amendments are draconian. They require a four-mile “buffer zone” whenever a sage-grouse mating ground is discovered on federal land. The American Petroleum Institute calls the proposed rules a “de facto ban on drilling.” It fears that compliance could cost tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and cause years of drilling delays.

Well of course it would.  That’s the whole point.  To make it economically unfeasible to fight this.  Never mind that the technology exists to make the foot print tiny (horizontal drilling), you still have to get permission to do it – time and mucho money.

But that’s on federal land.  How about private land.  Well it just so happens that’s where the prairie chicken comes in (along with the sage grouse).  Any idea of where they’re found?

The prairie chicken sits atop Texas’s Permian Basin oil bonanza, and the sage grouse is near the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

So a bird that is found in 11 western states is apparently “endangered” and also sits conveniently on one of the most productive finds in modern history (Bakken) and the other bird just happens to be in Texas’ big petroleum find?  How ironic, no?

Politics in the service of activism.  And if the activists don’t get their way?

Environmental groups have won victories by using a strategy called “sue and settle” under which groups propose species for protected status and then sue the federal government, which settles the lawsuit on terms favorable to the greens rather than fight. These settlements typically bypass a thorough review of the scientific evidence and exclude affected parties, such as industry and local communities.

According to Kent Holsinger, a natural resources attorney in Denver heavily involved in these cases, “Wildlife Guardians and Center for Biological Diversity have been party to more than 1,000 lawsuits between 1990 and the present.” The Center for Biological Diversity has made no secret of wanting to end fossil-fuel production in the U.S.

In the case of the Obama administration, it is more likely that this won’t be an antagonistic process, at least where the econuts are concerned.  Instead it will be a cooperative process while they bleed the destroy the concept of private property once and for all.

~McQ

A couple of enviro myths and reality

Myth one – wind power has no down side.  Well, except for the fact that wind power needs fossil fuel backup to give it any consistency and thus can be hardly called strictly renewable or “clean energy”.

But in this case, I was thinking more on the endangered species side of things.  The assumption is that wind power is an entirely eco-friendly way of generating power.  Yeah, not so much if you’re a bird – especially, in the case of California, a golden eagle:

The death count along the ridgelines of the Bay Area’s Altamount Pass Wind Resource Area has averaged 67 a year for three decades.

The 200ft high turbines, which have been operating since the 1980s, lie in the heart of the grassy canyons that are home to one of the highest densities of nesting golden eagles in the US.

‘It would take 167 pairs of local nesting golden eagles to produce enough young to compensate for their mortality rate related to wind energy production,’ field biologist Doug Bell, manager of East Bay Regional Park District’s wildlife programme, told the Los Angeles Times. ‘We only have 60 pairs,’ he added.

Interesting – the enviro-crowd will go to war for some tiny fish no one is heard of to stop a dam or some other project, but when something they mostly support grinds up endangered golden eagles at a rate at which they can’t replace themselves, crickets (endangered crickets, of course).  In CA only the Audubon Society is speaking out. 

And nationally:

Nationwide, about 440,000 birds are said to be accidentally killed at wind farms each year, as well as thousands more bats. With the government pushing for more wind energy farms, that statistic is likely to rise.

Can’t wait to see what comes of the Cape Wind project off of MA.  The toll of birds is sure to rise, and my guess is it will become a favorite hang out for sharks – with the automatic chumming and all.

Myth two – we’re “deforesting” the earth and that is a major reason that the climate is changing and getting warmer (more CO2 generated by man , minus less CO2 capture by forests).

A new study says not so fast:

For years exponents of climate change theories have used images of deforestation to support their cause.

However, the density of forests and woodland across much of the world is actually increasing, according to a respected scientific study.

The change, which is being dubbed the ‘Great Reversal’, could be crucial in reducing atmospheric carbon, which is linked to climate change.

Seems that the density has in fact increased significantly enough to actually reverse what was claimed as irreversible a decade ago:

In countries from Finland to Malaysia, the thickening has taken place so quickly that it has reversed the carbon losses caused by deforestation between 1990 and 2010.

Of course, even if they acknowledge the results of the study, enviro types aren’t happy with the mix of the new density.

Environmentalists expressed concerns, however, that much of the increasing density is driven by huge new monoculture plantations.

In China, an ambitious reforestation programme has added three million hectares to the country’s forests every year over the past decade, but green campaigners believe this is predominantly composed of one species – eucalyptus.

But the study says the density, regardless of species, is having the effect of taking in more carbon that forest were taking in during the previous decade, regardless of species.

The research, carried out by teams from the University of Helsinki and New York’s Rockefeller University, shows that forests are thickening in 45 of 68 countries, which together account for 72 per cent of global forests. Traditionally, environmentalists have focused their concern solely on the dwindling extent of forested areas, but the authors believe evidence of denser forests could be crucial in reducing the world’s carbon footprint.

So – if you’re one of the global warming alarmists who want to do something about your carbon footprint – go plant a tree or two.  As for the myth of deforestation – well, it’s just that, a myth.  10 million hectares of “new forest” are planted each year on newly felled woodland or reclaimed land.  And, per the study, the density in which it is planted has, within a decade, “reversed” any theorized damage and has the world in a net positive situation for CO2 capture.    That means, of course, that the alarmists no longer have this particular issue with which to hammer industries that use forest products – well except whine about what they’re planting.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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