Linking Environmental Protection and the Human Economy

Major environmental legislation

Early important legislation with respect to conservation focused on protection of wildlife, especially game species

Earliest relevant court case was Martin v. Wadell (1842), in which the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the state of New Jersey had jurisdiction over oysters in a mudflat claimed as property by a landowner

State jurisdiction was upheld and expanded with a series of cases, culminating in Geer v. Connecticut (1896); in this case, the Supreme Court upheld the state law that prevented Geer from shipping game birds out of Connecticut

Lacey Act (1900) made it illegal to transport birds across state boundaries if they had been taken in violation of any other law in the nation

Why did the federal government care about protection of species?

Yellowstone National Park as an indicator of the national mood

Charismatic megafauna driven to extinction, largely by hunting:

  • Steller's sea cow (only member of the genus) (by 1800)
  • great Auk (by 1844)
  • Labrador duck (by 1875)
  • sea mink (by 1880)
  • eastern subspecies of elk (by 1900)
  • Audubon bighorn, Black Hills (by 1906)
  • heath hen (eastern subspecies of prairie chicken) (by 1900)
  • passenger pigeon (by 1900 in wild; last individual died in Cincinnati zoo in 1914)
  • Carolina parakeet (last individual died in Cincinnati zoo in 1918)
  • Merriam elk (southwestern U.S.) (by 1906)

    1933 Aldo Leopold wrote Game Management

    1937 The Wildlife Society

    1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act prohibits the taking of an imperiled species

    1940 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service effectively established as part of the New Deal

    1964 Committee on Rare and Endangered Wildlife Species established within the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, and published the Redbook, the first official list of wildlife thought to be in danger of extinction (63 endangered species)

    1966 Congress passed the Endangered Species Preservation Act, which prohibited taking of endangered species from national wildlife refuges and authorized the establishment of refuges for endangered species conservation

    1969 Endangered Species Conservation Act extended the protections of the 1966 act to invertebrates; it also called for the Secretary of Interior to develop a list of globally endangered species and to prohibit the importation thereof, which directed the Secretary to facilitate an international convention on the conservation of species

    1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the environmental effects of any proposed action (usually via EA or EIS)

    22 April 1970 Earth Day

    1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act

    1973 Endangered Species Act

    1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) held in Washington, D.C.

  • CITES recognized endangered species and banned their international trade

  • CITES recognized varying degrees of endangerment

    Overview of Endangered Species Act

    Section 2: Lists findings and declarations of Congress

    Specifies protection of ecosystems

    Section 3: Provides definitions

  • species: any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature

  • endangered: in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range

  • threatened: likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range

    Section 4: Outlines listing procedures

  • Secretary of Interior may avoid listing the species if precluded by administrative limitations. Decision by the Secretary not to list a petitioned species is subject to judicial review; decision to list a species is not subject to judicial review.

  • Critical habitat shall be designated at the time of species listing (extension granted up to 1 year), but only to the maximum extent prudent and determinable

  • Secretary of Interior is required to prepare recovery plans for listed species unless he finds that such a plan will not promote the conservation of the species

    Section 5: Authorizes land acquisition for habitat protection

    Section 6: Provides for FWS cooperation with states (incl $)

    Section 7: Requires federal agencies to pursue preservation of species, and to consult with FWS before taking any action that could threaten the existence of a species or specimens thereof

  • Seven-member Endangered Species Committee ("god squad") includes Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, and Army, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, the Administrators of Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a representative from one of the affected states as appointed by the President

  • Secretary of State may disable the exemption process if he finds that the exemption will violate a treaty

  • Secretary of Defense may impose an exemption if necessary for national security

  • The President may grant an exemption for actions taken pursuant to the Disaster Relief Act

    Section 8: Calls for international cooperation

    8A: Provides guidelines for implementation of CITES

    Section 9: Prohibits taking of threatened or endangered species ay any party, public or private

    Section 10: Provides exceptions to Section 9

  • Secretary of Interior may permit exceptions for scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species; all exceptions may be granted only if they will not operate to the disadvantage of such endangered species

    Section 11: Outlines enforcement mechanisms and specifies penalties

    Section 12: Directs Smithsonian Institution to review status of endangered plants and to develop methods for plant species conservation

    Section 13: Brings ESA into conformance with other legislation

    Section 14: Repeals portions of the prior acts usurped by ESA

    Section 15: Authorizes appropriations in 5-year cycles

    Section 16: Specifies effective date as date of enactment

    Section 17: Prevents any interpretation of ESA that would weaken the provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act

    Section 18: Requires Secretary of Interior to submit annual report on species-specific basis

    Additional Information (also see assigned readings):

    Carson, R. 1962. Silent Spring. Fawcett, Greenwhich, Connecticut.

    Conley, J., Black, L., and Ruyle, G. 2001. The National Environmental Policy Act. Published online by AgNIC.

    Czech, B. and Krausman, P.R. 2001. The Endangered Species Act: History, Conservation Biology, and Public Policy. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

    Gottlieb, R. 1993. Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

    Leopold, A. 1933. Game Management. Charles Scribners Sons, New York.

    McHugh, T. 1972. The Time of the Buffalo. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

    Minteer, B.A. and Taylor, B.P. (editors). 2002. Democracy and the Claims of Nature: Critical Perspectives for a New Century. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, Maryland.

    Natural Resources Defense Council

    Peterson, S. 2002. Acting for Endangered Species: The Statutory Ark. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence.

    Rohlf, D.J. 1989. The Endangered Species Act. Stanford Environmental Law Society, Stanford, California.