By Pete Danko
As the Biden administration works to reverse Trump administration pullbacks in spotted owl habitat protection, two new peer-reviewed studies to inform the policy discussion have arrived.
The first was on the effect the owl’s listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act had on jobs, always a hot-button issue in the debate.
Researchers at the University of Chicago did a deep dive into the data and found there was a price to pay for shutting down logging on nearly 7 million acres of old forests: around 16,000 jobs in the Pacific Northwest, and 32,000 as the impact rippled across the nation.
But even that larger figure wasn’t near the forecast of 130,000 lost jobs that was circulated by the industry at the time. In contrast, it was in line with federal government predictions, of 13,000 lost jobs in the near term and 28,000 in the long run.
“Those job losses were a short-term cost, which likely had real welfare impacts on the workers, but in exchange we got back the chance to save a species and protect many others,” co-author Eyal Frank said in a report by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.