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Posted by: TEEBONE ®

11/28/2018, 19:43:52

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Washington bureaucracy slapped down in property grab - WND

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The bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., specifically the Fish and Wildlife Service, has been slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court over a decision that the government admitted would cost private landowners $34 million – but went ahead with anyway.

The fight is over the designation of land in Louisiana as critical habitat for an endangered frog.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, which fought on behalf of landowner Edward Poitevent, explained the frog hadn’t been seen on the land in more than five decades, it was some 70 miles away that the nearest frog was found, and the habitat wasn’t even suitable for the frog.

Yet the Service designated some 1,500 acres as protected for the frog anyway. The Supremes found that the Service admitted its decision to designate the land as critical habitat could cost the owners $33.9 million but did it anyway.

But the high court’s ruling sends the case back down the ladder of the court system to be handled the right way.

The opinion explains that the law clearly provides that the government is not authorized to designate an area as critical habitat for a species “unless it is also habitat for the species.”

The Forest Service stood on the claim that even though the land wasn’t usable habitat for the frog now, in fact the amphibian couldn’t survive there, the land could be made into suitable habitat if it was changed.

Mark Miller, of the PLF, explained in an online posting that it’s a significant victory for property rights across the nation.

“The decision is more than just a win for one client; it’s a big win for private property rights and government accountability. The Poitevent family has owned timber-rich land in Louisiana since the 19th century. In the 1990s, Weyerhaeuser Company acquired a lease of the Poitevent property for its timber operations, and Weyerhaeuser also purchased a small piece of the land,” he explained.

But in 2012, “under cover of the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated more than 1,500 acres of the Poitevent property as a ‘critical habitat’ for the endangered dusky gopher frog,” he wrote.

That was a “de facto uncompensated taking of the family’s property.”

Making the decision worse were the facts “no one had spotted the frog in Louisiana within the last 50 years and the species would not even survive on the family’s property if it were moved there.”

“The court unanimously ruled that the FWS must show that a ‘critical habitat’ for an endangered species must in fact be a habitat for a species before it can be designated as such,” he wrote.

“But the importance of this Supreme Court decision extends beyond environmental law. It also contains an important defense of judicial review of decisions made by executive branch agencies, a critical step in holding those agencies accountable. Ultimately, this defense of judicial review may end up being the most important part of this ruling.”

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The ruling said flatly the agency was wrong to argue that its decisions could not be reviewed by a court, and then got to the issue at hand, stating the law “does not authorize the secretary to designate the area as critical habitat unless it is also habitat for the species.”

The government argued the $34 million costs for the private landowners were not disproportionate to the benefits for the frog.

Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion included an English lesson, too.

“According to the ordinary understanding of how adjectives work, ‘critical habitat’ must also be ‘habitat.’ Adjectives modify nouns – they pick out a subset of a category that possesses a certain quality. If follows that ‘critical habitat’ is the subset of ‘habitat’ that is ‘critical’ to the conservation of an endangered species.”

He also pointed out the holes in the government’s arguments.

“The Service does not now dispute that critical habitat mut be habitat … although it made no such concession below. Instead, the Service argues that habitat includes areas that … would require some degree of modification to support a sustainable population of a given species.”





LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE

Democrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.





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