In this book, Steven Yaffee examines the Endangered Species Act as an example of prohibitive policy, an extreme form of government regulation that has been used increasingly in recent years, especially in the environmental area.
In 1978 the Supreme Court ruled that the Endangered Species Act barred the Tennessee Valley Authority from completing its almost-built, $120 million Tellico project because the project would destroy the habitat of the snail darter, a 3-inch long fish. Project supporters were outraged and claimed that the act was inflexible, prohibiting any balancing of the benefits of protection with the costs of compliance.In this book, Steven Yaffee examines the Endangered Species Act as an example of prohibitive policy, an extreme form of government regulation that has been used increasingly in recent years, especially in the environmental area. Critics have argued that such policy is inefficient because it appears to outlaw negotiation between conflicting social objectives. By reviewing both the legislative history of the act and five years of its implementation, from 1973 to its amendment in 1978, Yaffee sets out to test its critics' contentions. In a narrative replete with stories about the Furbish lousewort, the Houston toad, the Mississippi sandhill crane, and other threatened species, he argues that the process of implementation provides for balancing and negotiation even though they appear to be outlawed by statute.By examining science-based policy, Prohibitive Policy comments on the effects of technical expertise and professionalism on policymaking and implementation. Prohibitive Policy also reports on the record of the federal government in preserving species and the outlook for the success of future interventions. Since the global problem of extinction is getting worse, the lessons of this book can aid legislators and interest groups in framing new policy.