An appeals court in Louisiana refused to rehear a case in which the government was trying to seize control over private land in a hold over from the Obama years. Environmentalists are as pleased as punch but the court’s decision will have a chilling effect on private land owners and decrease property values greatly. Once you hear the details of the suit, you will see red.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated 6,477 acres of land in Louisiana as critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog in 2012. Fifteen hundred of those acres were privately owned lands. Hold on, it gets worse. No dusky gopher frogs live in Louisiana. And they haven’t for decades, but the Obama FWS claimed that the land was vital for the frogs because it contained one element necessary for the frog’s survival. But for these frogs to actually live there, all the vegetation would need to be replaced with plants habitable for them.
“As a matter of law and logic non-habitat can never be ‘critical habitat,’” Hopper said. “This tees up the case nicely for Supreme Court review which we will pursue.”
PLF has filed many suits on behalf of landowners whose property rights were curtailed by Endangered Species Act (ESA) designations. ESA designations can basically keep lands off-limits to development by adding new layers of federal permitting and red tape.
Republican lawmakers have been itching for ESA reform for years, and think they may have a shot at making the law more respectful towards property owners with Donald Trump as president.
Lawmakers will likely use this case as evidence the ESA has gone too far, but environmentalists welcomed the appeals court ruling.
“The dusky gopher frog is on the brink of extinction and desperately needed today’s good news,” Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney, said in a statement.