Tuesday, February 22, 2005

People who get it

Richard Pombo is the chair of the House Resources Committee, and a regular target of our mockery here at TfK. As it happens, his own home paper thinks he's wrong and a liar:
In every instance, the assertions Pombo and his supporters have made to justify their efforts either distort scientific data, misinterpret statutory language or misrepresent opponents arguments. Sometimes they encompass all three.

Take the ESA, for example. On Feb. 10, Pombo joined fellow Republicans in the House and Senate to announce creation of a partnership to improve and update the 1973 law, the most far-reaching of the nations bedrock environmental statutes. The ESA is a complete failure, Pombo declared, because it has a success rate of only 1 percent.

It is true that of the roughly 1,300 species listed as endangered or threatened over the past three decades, only 40 have subsequently been removed from the list and only 13 have been delisted because the population was deemed to have recovered. (The law defines an endangered species as one that is in imminent danger of extinction; a threatened species is regarded as likely to become endangered in the near future.) If the purpose of the law were solely to restore nearly extinct plants and animals to health, Pombos 1 percent figure would be correct. But while the ESA embraces recovery as the ultimate goal of protection, the statutory language makes it clear that preventing extinction was the laws immediate and primary purpose. Achieving robust populations of listed species relies on actions outside the scope of the ESA, for they are developed separately as part of each species recovery plan.

Judged in this light, the ESA has a 93 percent effectiveness rate, as only nine of the listed species have become extinct. Most of them received protection too late to be saved.
I remember saying this a couple weeks ago. It's good that other people see how things work.