The Triumph of the Blind Texas Slamander

and Other Tales from the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act is the most innovative, wide-reaching and successful environmental law that has been passed in the past quarter century. I can cite case after case: the resurgence of the American alligator, the fact that the skies are once again graced by many bald eagles, and that Peregrin falcon is moving from near extinction to the threshold of de-listing. The opponents of the Endangered Species Act know these facts. So they have come at us in a different direction, advocating a new and radical concept—that any government action lowering the value of someone’s property creates a right to be compensated by the U.S. Treasury. For example, H.R. 1388, styled as the :Just Compensation Act of 1993,” would require federal agencies to compensate property owners “for any diminution in value” caused by any regulatory action taken under environmental laws, including, right at the top, the Endangered Species Act.