Nevada’s Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei have joined with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky to introduce a bill that would take the power to regulate intrastate endangered and threatened species away from federal agencies and give it to state governors. It is called, appropriately enough, the Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act.

In Nevada the sage grouse are probably going to be listed as threatened or endangered, which will affect mining, oil and gas exploration, grazing, power lines and pipelines and recreation.

The bill points out that since passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, less than 1 percent of the total number of species in the United States have been recovered and removed from the ESA list, and those were largely due to data errors or other factors. Additionally, there has been no study of the costs or benefits of ESA and no accounting of how much state and federal governments and the private sector have spent to comply with the law.

The “ESA effectively penalizes landowners for owning endangered species habitat by forcing them to bear the cost of conservation,” the bill says, without mentioning that it can lead some landowners to shoot, shovel and shut up.

The bill would basically restore a modicum of plenary power to the states, which, under the 10th Amendment, is where it belonged in the first place, since there is no enumerated power allowing Congress to regulate species.

In a statement announcing the bill, Amodei said: “Giving governors greater flexibility would go a long way mitigating the one-size-fits-all impact of the ESA, which is threatening to shutdown vast swatches of the American West, including Nevada.”

Heller commented: “The Endangered Species Act already has an abysmal success rate, so it is time to give the states the opportunity to step in where the ESA has largely failed.”

We fully support this effort. – TM