Policy Center Warns: Beware of ‘Kelo II’

July 5, 2005

Washington, D.C.–Unfortunately, the dreadful Kelo v. City of New London ruling isn’t the only nightmare facing property owners this summer, the American Policy Center (APC) reported today. According to draft language obtained by the Center, the “Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005” (TESRA 2005) is a major sellout to property rights advocates nationwide. Appropriately, the Center has dubbed the bill “Kelo II.”

“I can’t believe what I’m looking at,” said APC president Tom DeWeese referring to the draft language. “Just as the Supreme Court’s decision on Kelo has strengthened local governments’ ability to run roughshod over the Fifth Amendment, TESRA 2005 strengthens the federal government’s ability to steal private property under the Endangered Species Act.” According to the documents obtained, the TESRA 2005 language was produced by Congressman Richard Pombo’s House Resources Committee office.

The language states that the federal government can take up to 50 percent of a landowner’s property before it ever has to pay the landowner a dime. “This is a sellout to property rights advocates, plain and simple,” said DeWeese. “Stealing 50 percent of a person’s lifeblood is out and out theft, but Congressman Pombo wants to make it federal law.”

A particularly frightening provision in the Act “provides new authority to protect listed species from harmful invasive species.” DeWeese calls this “an outrage,” noting that radical environmentalists have sought regulatory authority over so-called invasive species for years. Property rights advocates have fought such authority tooth-and-nail, as it would lead to property rights abuse far and above even what the current Endangered Species Act allows. “If this is Congressman Pombo’s idea of help for property owners, I’d hate to see his idea of hurt,” said DeWeese.

According to an Executive Order signed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, invasive species are broadly defined as “any species, including seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species, that is not native to that ecosystem.” DeWeese notes that Kentucky bluegrass and English ivy, found on most lawns and golf courses, are just two examples of common invasive species that could open the door to government regulation of a person’s property.

The Endangered Species Act has a thirty-year history of shredding Americans’ constitutional protection of private property, and it has ruined countless lives in the process. DeWeese warns that the Pombo plan to reaffirm the Act’s unconstitutional power to take private property, and give the federal government the additional power to regulate invasive species, is an absolute disaster for anyone who owns land. He gives it an emphatic two thumbs down.

“Like most sequels, it would have been much better if Kelo II [TESRA 2005] had never been made.”

The American Policy Center is a grassroots lobby located in Warrenton, Virginia. For nearly 20 years, the Center has fought for property rights and limited government regulation.

Tom DeWeese
[email protected]

Tom DeWeese is President of the American Policy Center and National Grassroots Coordinator for CFACT (Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) working to help local activists organize into Freedom Pods (www.CFACT.org). He is also the author of three books, including Now Tell Me I Was Wrong, ERASE, and Sustainable: the WAR on Free Enterprise, Private Property, and Individuals.