Subject: Fwd: **Urgent note about ESA reform** Plz read, distribute and take action----Original Message----From: Katherine LehmanDate: Sat, 17 Sep 2005 10:52:32 -0700Subject: **Urgent note about ESA reform** Plz read, distribute and take action
Some of you may not know me, and may never have heard of People for the USA, so I will give you a brief introduction of both, so you may better understand my perspective, and decide if you will read any further.
Back in 1988, PFUSA's predecessor, the National Coalition for Public Lands and Natural Resources, began as a voice for "rural Americans" who were furious at the drive by environmentalists to curb logging of old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. By 1992, the group’s membership had grown to include members beyond the Northwest region and so it became People for the West! Then, three years later, it morphed into People for the USA!, with 120 chapters nationwide and high-profile members, such as Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., and (former) Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho.
By the fall of 2000 though, due to a decline of funding and membership, the group’s national board passed a resolution to close down shop. As of Jan. 20, 2001, much to the dismay of its 30,000 members, the group officially disbanded. However, several regional chapters of
PFUSA or PFW continue to this day.
Almost four years ago we folded what was then the Pacific Region of PFUSA into the California State Grange structure, hence our current name PFUSA Grange. I have served as President the past two years. We are "people united in applying Constitutional, free-market principles in support of strong communities, vigorous economies, and a healthy environment." We are politically active, advocating for liberty at the local, state and federal levels.
As you no doubt know, there is currently an effort in Congress, spearheaded by House Committee on Resources Chairman Richard Pombo, to amend and reauthorize the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. However, when the Chairman addressed the National ESA Reform Coalition (NESARC) meeting in DC last November, he was reported to say he was going to fix the ESA, but could not guarantee any protections for private property.
True to his word, The Endangered Species Reform Act (TESRA) 2005 is expected to come out of committee the week of Sept. 19, be marked up quickly, and then submitted to the full House for a vote. It's imperative you get involved in this process. If the ESA is reauthorized, this may well be the last real opportunity in most of our lifetimes to influence it's language and impacts on everyday Americans, and our nation's economic and defensive health.
Chairman Pombo has long been an opponent of the ESA, primarily due to the Act’s abject failure to protect and recover listed species (less than .1%), and its draconian regulations that have all but destroyed our Nation’s productive and extractive resource industries, such as logging, mining, ranching and farming these past 30+ years. You can read his May report to the HCR here http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/issues/more/esa/implementationreport.htm .
The ESA actually expired in 1992, but environmental advocates have so effectively deceived and brainwashed the American populace, and deceived, brainwashed and threatened Congress that they continue to pass annual funding for what would be the most devastating and destructive piece of legislation ever enacted in our nation, were it not for the Income Tax Act of 1913.
A well-funded industry campaign is afoot to sell the need to “update, modernize, improve and strengthen” the ESA. But the ESA has been a lethal poison to many, many landowners, robbing them of the use of their hard won private property. It has restricted or denied the public's recreational access to federal lands beyond anything that is reasonable, or otherwise lawful; it has strangled many, many development projects, including schools, roads and hospitals; and it has killed off entire rural, resource-based communities. Why increase the dosage of a lethal poison, in the name of positive change? PFUSA Grange has been working with grassroots groups across the nation to insure what we end up with is good public policy; that there be NO REAUTHORIZATION WITHOUT JUST COMPENSATION.
A staff draft of TESRA (posted by the Center for Biological Diversity www.eswr.com/605/pombodraftbill.pdf ) was released to a select few this past June, scheduled to be released from committee for consideration of the entire House last July. It was not released to most, if not all, the leading property rights attorneys in the nation. It was not released to well-known and respected advocacy groups for private property rights and/or access to federal lands. In fact, if you have requested a copy personally, as just another citizen, you would have been refused.
Many organizations and individuals that you've trusted in the past, hopefully all well-meaning, pressed for blind trust of whatever final wording TESRA contains, merely because Chairman Pombo is the author. This is foolishness, and worse. No one should support any legislation solely because of its author, but only after careful examination and consideration of its wording and implications. The Law of Unintended Consequences is merciless.
Many of you have worked the issue of ESA reform, if not outright repeal, for some time. Some of you joined me in DC last January when the ESA Coalition, chaired by Chuck Cushman, met with HCR staffers and Chairman Pombo (via interactive video) in Longworth. Some of you traveled to DC this summer to show your support for ESA reform. Yet TESRA, as it existed at that time, contained provisions that would have alarmed you; provisions that would not “improve” or “reform” the ESA in positive ways as you might think. We were asked to trust blindly, and some did. Here are some provisions I doubt you would have supported had you been informed…
1) TESRA would relieve the government from paying just compensation (as required by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) unless at least half of your private property is taken. Could you survive the government taking 49.9% of your property without paying you one red cent? IMHO, this provision alone requires a Constitutional Amendment, which can only be ratified through convening a Constitutional Convention.
2) TESRA would establish Invasive Species regulations under the authority of the ESA, defining “invasive” loosely enough to include you, me, the livestock we raise, the feed we raise to feed the livestock, the food and fibre we raise, and much (if not all) the landscaping around our homes. This provision alone would drive the final nail in the coffin of all productive and extractive natural resources, and could end all recreational use, whether on federal, state, county or private lands.
3) TESRA would alarmingly increase the powers of the Secretary of the Interior, giving him/her the discretion to treat ANY SPECIES as listed (as threatened or endangered), whether or not they are. This provision would eliminate all pretext of any scientific basis or justification for listing species.
If you belong to an organization that has been blindly supporting TESRA, perhaps it's time to re-think the way that organization conducts itself, or re-think your membership.
Many of you received an invitation from Chuck Cushman to join him in DC this coming week, to show your ongoing support for ESA reform. The copy I saw stated he had invited the members of the ESA Coalition. I can tell you, speaking for myself at least, that is not true. Chuck suspended emails to me some months back, perhaps because I won't toe the party line, and blindly support, and suggest others support, legislation I haven't read.
One paradoxical note - I've been told HCR staffers have called the signatories of the Aug./Sept. letter to the Chairman to invite them to attend a "Grassroots ESA Coalition" meeting arranged by Chuck next Monday afternoon. Oddly, though, the HCR staffers did not call Tom DeWeese, Peyton Knight, David Ridenour, Dan and Margaret Byfield, Rachel Thomas, and other grassroots leaders who have stood in staunch opposition to nasty provisions such as those above. This not only appears petty and childish, but begs the question, "Why slap the faces of those who've worked so hard to produce the political cover the Chairman has said he needs and wants to move as far right as he'd like to?"
Some of you have told me you're worried Chairman Pombo has sold out to environmental pressure groups, or is, and has been all along, a fraud merely claiming to champion private property rights. I don't believe that is the case. I have struggled mightily with some of the appearances of his effort. But I've come to realize we must focus on the issue, the public policy being produced, and set all personalities and perceived intentions aside. At the end of the day, either any proposed reforms of the ESA are good public policy, and amend nastiness out of the Act, or they do not. Nothing else matters.
This proposed legislation is still a work in progress. The text of the draft released a couple of months has apparently changed, recently and significantly. I doubt this would have occurred were it not for the persistent and incisive opposition mounted by the signatories of the above attached letters to Chairman Pombo.
The current working draft has not yet been released, although the CBD has posted a "staff summary" ( http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/press/pombo9-15-05.html ). We have, however, received several very hopeful bits of information. We have now been told that Invasive Species is out, and a 100% compensation for taking is in. We've been told Jim Burling, lead property rights attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, has been invited to testify on TESRA. Jim will not testify blindly, and he will not gloss over any remaining TESRA shortcomings, at least as they relate to protection of private property. We've been told the current draft will be released Monday, Sept. 19. PLEASE contact Chairman Pombo (email@example.com or 1-202-225-2761) or any member of the committee ( http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/fullcommittee/members.htm ) to receive a copy of TESRA for review.
America cannot much longer withstand the assault on the ESA, not only on private property rights and recreational pursuits, but on the only true wealth-creating ability our nation has, based in our natural resources. If the ESA cannot be truly improved so it is no longer pointlessly destructive, then it must be repealed.
TESRA should be sent to the full Committee very soon, where it will be marked up prior to submission to the full House. The Committee needs your input during mark-up, whether you support or oppose any portion of the bill. Please take action today; time is very short. Distribute this article to as many people as possible. We do not need the ESA working more mischief in our lives. Once TESRA gets to the House, you must contact your Congressional Representative ( http://www.house.gov/ or 1-202-224-3121) to tell them how to vote on this critical bill.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Katherine Lehman, President
People for the USA Grange
P.O. Box 3574
Ashland, Oregon 97520
“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”
- Amendment V, United States Constitution
PROPERTY RIGHTS FIRST.doc
June ltr to Pombo re TESRA.doc
Aug-Sept ltr to Pombo re TESRA.doc
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