U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today applauded a watchdog organization that litigates for private property rights and a balanced approach to environmental regulations. The Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for designating 1,544 acres of private property in St. Tammany Parish, La. as "critical habitat" for the dusky gopher frog.
"In recent years the Obama administration has launched an assault on private property rights with abusive tactics under the Endangered Species Act," Vitter said. "I support protecting endangered species and don't want to see a species go anywhere near extinction, but in this instance in St. Tammany Parish, Washington bureaucrats are telling a private landowner that despite there being no frogs, his land is to be used as they see fit. The administration has teamed up with far-left environmental groups in secret settlements, called "sue-and-settle" where vast amounts of federal, state, and private land are being partly or wholly taken out of commerce. And this means good-paying jobs and other positive economic activity are lost."
Last week, Vitter and 23 Senators questioned the administration on how proposed changes to economic impact analyses required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) could potentially hide the true impact of a species listing on jobs and private property rights across the nation. The Pacific Legal Foundation played an important role in Sackett v. EPA, an important Supreme Court decision last year that involved another federal agency's abuse of our environmental laws.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have proposed numerous revisions to critical habitat economic impact analyses under the ESA. In a letter to the heads of the agencies, the Senators suggest the agencies' rule-making changes are an attempt to avoid public scrutiny of the consequences of action and may provide for an incomplete representation of the economic impacts on private and state lands. In some cases, the economic impact analyses the agencies are proposing to use would only show administrative costs instead of actual data.
A copy of the complaint filed today is available upon request.