Legislation such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act infringe upon property rights across all levels.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 was designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction due to "the consequences of economic growth and development.” However, since its inception, the ESA has been one of the largest threats to property rights and has yielded very little results. In over 30 years, the success rate for its main objective, species recovery, is less than 1%. This abysmal record is not the only problem. The threat of ESA actually encourages land owners to destroy habitats on their land so that it will not be taken away from them in the name of species protection. Because 90% of endangered species in the U.S. have habitat on private land, it is important that ESA be reformed to end the adversarial relationship between government and property owners. Known as the "shoot, shovel and shut up" syndrome, research demonstrates that the ESA causes some property owners to destroy habitats of endangered species rather than risk losing their property.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970 by President Richard Nixon. The law established a national Council on Environmental Quality to oversee government activities that could affect the environment and requires all federal agencies to file environmental impact statements (EIS) before beginning any major federal action. Assessing the environmental impact of every major project is a costly and time-consuming endeavor that has had dramatic effects on the economy, while also delaying or ending the construction of important government projects. NEPA has also resulted in thousands of lawsuits in the last 30 years, including lawsuits which derailed hurricane barrier projects in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
Often referred to as "paralysis by analysis," provisions in NEPA have inhibited construction of necessary government projects. NEPA is often exploited by environmentalist groups to halt government projects and further the platform of the environmental lobby. Environmental Impact Statements have consumed millions of dollars over the years, often requiring redundant studies and years of wasted time to satisfy the requirements of this law.