Study: Section 7 Of ESA Doesn’t Hinder Economic Growth

Date: December 15, 2015

Study Asserts Many Projects Altered To Avoid Jeopardy Finding

The Washington Post reported that a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that examined the Endangered Species Act (ESA) found that in the past seven years, “not a single project has been halted or extensively changed as a result of” Section 7 of the ESA, which requires federal agencies to consult with US Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service to “ensure that development projects do not jeopardize species that have been listed under the act or ‘adversely modify’ their critical habitats.” The study “effectively remov[es] the teeth from modern arguments claiming that this aspect of the ESA is a hindrance to economic growth.” While the study was conducted by employees of an environmental advocacy group, the paper was reviewed and published by a peer-reviewed journal.

E&E Publishing opined that these findings “fly in the face of concerns often raised by Republicans and ESA’s industry critics, according to Jacob Malcom and Ya-Wei Li, the study’s authors, who work for the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife.” The Guardian (UK) reported that Ya-Wei Li, senior director of endangered species conservation at Defenders of Wildlife, observed: “A lot of projects are modified in the first place, but this shows that none of them were stopped or substantially modified in order to avoid the jeopardy finding.”

What This Means For Small Business

While the costs affiliated with Section 7 of ESA may be less than anticipated, this is only a small subset of the enormous regulatory burden placed on small businesses across America. Additionally, as the National Federation of Independent Business has observed, “small businesses are hit hardest when federal agencies impose new regulatory burdens,” as they “typically lack in-house counsel” and “lack the financial resources to absorb regulatory costs that larger corporations can withstand.” Changing a project at a late stage to comply with any of the myriad environmental regulations may be an option for a Fortune 500 enterprise, but could be a punishing blow for a small business.

Additional Reading

Science Magazine provided additional coverage of the study.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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