NFIB Calls Illegal Endangered Species Regulation a ‘Power Grab with a Painful Price’

Date: March 15, 2016

Contact: Kelly Klass, 609-713-4243

Leading small business
group argues that federal agency’s illegal interpretation of a regulation restricts
property rights

Washington, DC (March 15, 2016) – The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service is robbing business owners of the value of their own
properties by effectively re-writing the Endangered Species Act to impose severe
blanket restrictions that Congress did not authorize or intend for threatened
species, according to a petition filed today by the National Federation of Independent
Business (NFIB).

“Congress understandably authorized stringent
regulations to protect species that are on the brink of extinction. They did
not intend to criminalize all activities that could affect any of the hundreds
of threatened species around the country,” said NFIB Small Business Legal
Center Executive Director Karen Harned
. “This regulatory overreach allows
the government to take privately-owned land and prevent economic development
for species that are not at risk of extinction.” 

Congress adopted the Endangered Species Act in
1973, which imposed stringent regulations on land use within areas designated
as critical habitat for “endangered species.” But Congress opted against
imposing those same restrictions for a species listed as merely “threatened.” Instead,
Congress authorized U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to impose restrictions on a
case-by-case basis as may be necessary and appropriate to protect threatened
species; however, Congress did not intend for the agency to impose the very
same restrictions across the board as for endangered species.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is stretching
the law far beyond congressional intent,” said Harned.  “We don’t believe
it has the power to restrict land use in cases where there are no endangered
species.  By doing so it deprives land owners, including many small businesses,
of the full value of their property.”

alongside the Pacific Legal Foundation, is asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to rescind the offending regulation. If the agency refuses, NFIB is
prepared to file a legal complaint.

 “The Supreme Court and Congress have
reasonably concluded many times that agencies cannot reach beyond their
regulatory authority,” Harned said.  “This is a dangerous precedent and
we urge the Service to repeal this regulation before we take legal


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