Monday, March 21, 2016

325,000 business owners fight feds over endangered species rule

Hundreds of thousands of business owners have filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove a rule they contend reaches far beyond what Congress intended when it wrote the law regarding endangered species. For decades, the petition asserts, the federal agency has implemented blanket rules protecting members of a species or its habitat that are not necessary and not allowed under the law. The petition was filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the 325,000 members of the National Federal of Independent Business. The typical member employs 10 people and reports gross sales of about $500,000 a year. Filed at the start of a process that could lead to a formal legal challenge, the petition says small businesses and ordinary citizens face the threat of enormous potential fines and even jail time for activities “that Congress deemed legal.” “We are filing this petition to force unelected bureaucrats to follow the law,” said Jonathan Wood, a PLF staff attorney. “This illegal regulation imposes onerous regulatory burdens on property owners and small businesses, and ultimately hurts the very species it purports to protect. “The Fish and Wildlife Service asserts the authority to criminalize any activity that affects any member of hundreds of threatened species across the country, without any express authorization from Congress. The Supreme Court has explained that agencies may not exercise powers of such ‘vast economic and political significance’ without Congress’ clear say-so.”...more

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