Debates over implementation and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) often focus on the use of science. The debate over the use of science under the ESA is part of the “science charade” that clouds substantive policy debate about species conservation. What typically divides competing interest groups is not a devotion to science, but sharply divergent policy preferences dressed up in scientific garb. The political debate over the use of science under the ESA tends to obscure the dividing line between science and policy and undermines the development of more effective and equitable conservation strategies. Further, efforts to reform the ESA by mandating additional scientific procedures or increasing judicial scrutiny of the use of science by federal agencies will do little to address the ESA’s underlying problems or make species conservation efforts more effective.


Endangered species, Endangered species act, species conservation, science charade, sound science

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24 Supreme Court Economic Review (forthcoming 2017)


COinS Jonathan H. Adler Faculty Bio