all of our environmental regulations and policies protect ecology by preventing
pollutants from degrading the habitats of species. However, in the USA
there is one federal regulation that specifically discusses ecological
protection: Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Endangered Species Act
was enacted in 1973 to place the highest priority on the protection of
endangered species. It is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service,
the National Marine Fisheries Service.
prohibits government agencies from authorizing, funding, or carrying out
any activities that might harm an endangered species, or its habitat,
and prohibits individuals from taking an endangered species (taking can
be broadly defined as causing any harm) without regard to economic consequences.
is the main law that can prevent large civil infrastructure from getting
built particularly in conjunction with the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA). NEPA was enacted in 1969. The goal was to ensure public input
regarding actions that affect the environment. NEPA requires all agencies
to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS) analyzing the effects
of any major project that it plans to implement.
CASE: Tennessee Valley Authority vs Hill, 1978 court decision.
A federal agency wanted to build the Tellico Dam on a segment of
the Little Tennessee River. A citizen's group wanted to block the
project and tried to under NEPA. NEPA required the agency to do
an assessment of the environmental impacts caused by the proposed
dam. In 1973, a small endangered fish known as the snail darter
was found in the Little Tennessee River. The citizen's group filed
a lawsuit claiming that the dam would destroy the fish's habitat.
The court agreed and after many appeals, the 1978 Court of Appeals
stopped the project.
works as follows:
The Secretary of the Interior maintains a list of endangered species,
and a list of threatened species (likely endangered in the future).
A species is listed if any of these conditions applies: a) present or
threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat,
b) over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational
purposes, c) disease or predation impacts, d) inadequacy of existing
regulatory mechanisms, and e) other natural or anthropogenic factors
affect the existence. There is no economic consideration at this stage.
habitat: The relevant agencies define a geographical area with physical
and biological features that are essential to species survival. At this
stage the agencies can consider economic impacts to limit the area,
therefore the area is not necessarily equal to the entire habitat.
Plans: These are developed to include specific steps that must be taken
to help the species populations to increase in size.
- God Squad:
overruling authority was added to help negotiate conflicts.