Noon: Rolling back big government overreach
Washington’s overreach has been rolled back by courts and commissioners. In little more than 30 days, there have been five distinct cases that you may have missed — each a victory for responsible land use.
The Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) was scheduled for full implementation on Aug. 28 and would have greatly expanded the federal government’s authority over water and land and could apply to ditches, streams, wetlands and small isolated bodies of water. On Aug. 27, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson issued a temporary injunction sought by North Dakota and 12 other states. In his decision, Erickson wrote: “Once the rule takes effect, the states will lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters that will then be subject to the scope of the Clean Water Act.” Calling the rule “arbitrary and capricious,” he declared that the Environmental Protection Agency “violated its congressional grant of authority in its promulgation of the rule.”
Undaunted, the EPA pushed back, stating that the rule only applied to the thirteen states that requested the injunction. For the remaining 37 states, the EPA is enforcing the regulation as planned.
Lesser Prairie Chicken
Once again, a federal agency has been acting arbitrarily and capriciously. This time, it is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On Sept. 2, U.S. District Judge Robert A. Junell overturned the Obama administration’s 2014 listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species, which gave the bird protection under the Endangered Species Act and limited land use in five states.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is required to consider the conservation plans. The court determined that the agency “did not properly consider active conservation efforts for the bird when listing it.” Junell wrote: “The Court finds FWS did conduct an analysis, however this analysis was neither ‘rigorous’ nor valid as FWS failed to consider important questions and material information necessary to make a proper evaluation.”
Hydraulic Fracturing Rule
Sept. 30, was another smack down — this time the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, which, in March, issued federal fracking rules designed to spur states to follow suit (most energy-producing states already regulate fracking).
Wyoming’s U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl wrote: “Congress has not authorized or delegated the BLM authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing and, under our constitutional structure, it is only through congressional action that the BLM can acquire this authority.” He issued a preliminary injunction barring implementation of the rules.
Ranchers in and around New Mexico’s Gila Forest have been fighting the federal government’s plan to release Mexican grey wolves, which, since their introduction in 1998, have killed livestock.
On Sept.29, in a 7-0 vote, concerned about the impact to ranchers and elk hunters, the New Mexico Game Commission upheld an earlier decision denying the Fish and Wildlife Service permits to release Mexican wolves into federal land in southwestern New Mexico.
“Federal policy requires FWS to consult state agencies and comply with their permitting processes when releasing endangered animals from captivity,” Science Magazine reports, “even when releases are made on federal land.”
On Sept. 22, Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the sage grouse would not be listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Washington Post reports that “the chicken-like grouse does not meet the required standard because a collaboration of federal agencies, states, ranchers, industry and environmental groups has already begun to restore areas where it breeds.”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.column.