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May-15-2008 08:05TweetFollow @OregonNews
Polar Bear Decision Gives Environmental Trial Lawyers A 'New Legal Sledgehammer'Salem-News.com
Activists say the Endangered Species Act has failed in more than 99 percent of all listings to do that which is was created to do.
(LAKEWOOD, Co.) - The government's decision to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act will give environmental trial lawyers "a powerful new legal sledgehammer" against virtually every business and agricultural operation in the Western U.S. and will deliver virtually no benefit to the polar bear species, according to Jim Sims, President and CEO of the Western Business Roundtable.
"This decision marks a sad day for the American West and for the polar bear. The only beneficiaries of this decision will be a small handful of environmental trial lawyers who make their living suing those Americans who work the land and keep our nation strong," Sims said.
"Those who made this decision did so with the best of intentions and under a highly flawed and failed law," Sims said. "Nonetheless, this will unleash a torrent of lawsuits by a small group of extremists who are opposed to responsible development of any of the America's bountiful resources. Those lawsuits are going to cost Americans jobs, expose millions of farmers and ranchers and small businesses to citizen lawsuits, slow economic growth and force our nation to become even more dependent on foreign sources of energy."
"The bulk of the economic damage from this decision will fall upon the American West and on the State of Alaska, which together comprise our nation's energy and natural resource breadbasket," Sims said. "This decision will make it harder for America to supply our citizens with the goods and materials necessary to maintain our standard of living."
"In its more than 30 years of operation, the Endangered Species Act has failed in more than 99 percent of all listings to do that which is was created to do: help a listed species recover to health," Sims noted. "This statistic comes right from U.S. Fish & Wildlife data. If more than 30 years of history is any guide, this listing will not help the polar bear. It will substitute the judgment of Washington bureaucrats for that of actual working biologists in the field. It will put conservation efforts for the bear into a regulatory straightjacket. It's probably the worst thing we could have done to the bear as a species."
"The Department's decision to fully list the bear but then caution that this listing doesn't provide any justification for environmental lawsuits is a bit naive," he added. "This decision isn't going to stop any lawsuits by extremist groups from going forward."
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