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Should the Endangered Species Act be repealed?In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA)...

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted August 17, 2012 at 7:20 PM via web

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Should the Endangered Species Act be repealed?

In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed. This legislation is designed to protect some 1,200 species from becoming extinct. Despite its intent, only about one percent of the animals on the list have recovered as a result of the law. Critics of the law point to this low rate of success and also argue that protected habitats inhibit economic opportunities, such as prohibiting the building of homes and businesses. Should the ESA be repealed?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 18, 2012 at 1:13 AM (Answer #2)

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I would argue that full repeal of the law would be too drastic of a step.  At the same time, it seems likely that we ought to work on making the law a little more flexible.  The law does bring with it significant problems for business and development.  It imposes real costs on them.  At the same time, it is not always clear that it has any major benefits.  It is hard to argue that we can preserve every species on Earth.  We need to figure out some sort of way to distinguish between environmental changes that really matter and those that are less important.

In an ideal world, this law would be kept because we would be able to keep nature pristine.  In the real world, we cannot protect all species and we need to find some sort of "happy medium."

http://www.enotes.com/endangered-species-act-reference/endangered-species-act-145664

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 18, 2012 at 1:19 AM (Answer #3)

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I don't think it is wise to set environmental policy based on economic opportunity, or to allow those with monied interests in the removal of the law to evaluate its effectiveness.  History is rife with widespread and sometimes catastrophic damage to the environment in the name of economic progress. 

It is fair to argue whether or not the Endangered Species Act has been effective or if it should be reformed so that it is more so.  But we would also need to look at other factors (habitat encroachment, climate change, economic development, pollution, etc.) that may be inhibiting the success of recovery as opposed to assuming the law itself is a failure.  Perhaps creating better conditions for the ESA to work would make a difference.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 19, 2012 at 12:05 AM (Answer #4)

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The Endangered Species Act should not be repealed merely for economic concerns.  If environmental focus groups and a research-based inquiry determined that the law really did not demonstrate an improved protection of threatened species, then perhaps the law should be tweaked, amended, or revised.  It is frustrating to think that special interest groups with lobbyists may try to revoke a law protecting the environment so some businesses can take advantage of the animals' natural habitat, for example,  so real estate developers build more condos. 

The ESA really represents such a small level of commitment from the government to protecting these species; perhaps more can be done, but at what cost?  Environmental experts have more solutions to the problem of dwindling species than just protecting a singular habitat, like through the ESA.  One of the most debated proposals calls for 'wildlife corridors' that connect multiple habitats of the species to promote breeding and diversity; one such corridor plan suggested connecting animal habitats all the way along the Rocky Mountains from Colorado to northern parts of Canada; the obvious downside to this plan is the cost, which would be in the millions. Sadly, the environment usually takes a back seat to more pressing issues for the government, like healthcare reform and the economy. 

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 19, 2012 at 11:33 AM (Answer #5)

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Post #4 summarizes my exact opinion with the words

...special interest groups with lobbyists may try to revoke a law protecting the environment so some businesses can take advantage...

It is unfortunate, but our government has come to that point: where legislation is disguised as one thing only to benefit another, namely, the big donors who pushed forward the election of a candidate for their own benefit.

Regardless, the Endangered Species Act should not be repealed based on economic concerns. What should be done, instead, is maybe cut the personal spending and the "professional spending" budgets of government officials, beginning with those of the President, and we could rest assured that there will be enough money to save the next Panda for many years to come. Many more, indeed.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 19, 2012 at 7:19 PM (Answer #6)

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The Endangered Species Act should never be repealed.  However, there may need to be revisions to it as fanatical groups such as PETA seem to have input these days.  As an example, the beach mouse is on the endangered species list in the coastal regions of Alabama.  Now, this rodent is certainly part of the balance of nature as it provides food for the snakes and coyotes and other small animals; however, if the "endangered" label were lifted from it, would there not be other rodents available.  (A dam was prevented from construction because of the Snail Darter is another ridiculous example.) So, post #1 has a cogent point about distinguishing which environmental changes really matter.

Throughout the years, some animals have been on  Endangered Species because of poaching, etc., but they are abundant enough now that they are no longer labeled "endangered."  (e.g. alligators). This is the sensible way to deal with such animals.  Clearly, without the Endangered Species Act, some animals would be eradicated, and all of us have seen enough nature programs to understand the dire dangers of upsetting the balance of nature. 

Above all else, however, the government should never be allowed free reign to make a decision about the Endangered Species Act because history proves that almost any program in which the government becomes involved eventually goes beyond its original intention. It seems better to leave such decisions to scientists who are not politicos.

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mwalter822 | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 24, 2012 at 11:01 PM (Answer #7)

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The law should not be repealed. Businesses can usually find a way to overcome problems associated with regulation. It's important that we do not allow business to devastate us environmentally. That doesn't mean that the government should not try to find creative solutions to problems that might protect species and allow for economic development at the same time.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 1, 2012 at 2:03 AM (Answer #8)

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I really do not see any benefit of repealing the Endangered Species Act.  We are doing what little we can to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  Once a species is gone, we cannot bring it back.  Something has to be done to maintain biodiversity.

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 8, 2012 at 12:48 AM (Answer #9)

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Though one percent is small gains, still it is gains. Until we have some more effective way to protect species that are being ushered into extinction through our gentle stewardship (verbal irony), we are obliged to do the best we can with the best we've got. It matters in a long-term as well as short-term view which species are here amongst us on Planet Earth. Ideally, they'd all be but this is impossible because of civilization encroaching on habitats. The next ideal is to protect and try to protect those that are left. I have serious doubts that business and industry will be suddenly any more collaborative than previously when it comes to sharing terrain with other species, so I seriously doubt the it-will-all-come-out-all-right approach advocated by some. The ESA should by all means not be repealed regardless of its 1% success rate--until we have a better second generation approach that has higher success percentages.

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