President's weekly report — November 2, 2012

November 02, 2012 | By ROB RIVETT

We’ve been hard at work this week defending property rights and economic liberty against excess government.  A few of this week’s highlights are below:

Environment — Endangered Species Act (Flying squirrels)

In Friends of Blackwater v. Salazar, the “Friends of Blackwater” sought to overturn decision by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel.  The claim is that the squirrel is threatened by global warming.  The environmentalists had won in district court but lost in DC Circuit Court.  We filed an amicus brief in both venues.  Yesterday the DC Circuit denied environmentalists’ petition for panel and en banc rehearings.  The delisting will stand.

Environment — Endangered Species (Sonoran bald eagles)

In Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar, CBD has filed its third attempt to overturn the decision by Fish and Wildlife Service not to list the Sonoran Desert Population of the bald eagle as a “distinct population segment” that is protected under the Endangered Species Act.  We filed an amicus brief on CBD’s last attempt and will do so again.

Environment — Endangered Species petition

We filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service over its failure to act on our petition to down or delist the gypsum wild-buckwheat, black-capped vireo, Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, lesser long-nosed bat, and the Toubsusch fishhook cactus.  The Service’s own data suggests these species are not properly categorized and yet the government refuses to act.

Property Rights — Washington State

On October 29, 2012, we received an adverse decision in Laurel Park Cmty. LLC v. City of Tumwater.  The Ninth Circuit held that the City of Tumwater, Washington, did not commit a taking when it enacted two ordinances which prohibit six manufactured home park owners from converting their parks to other, more economically efficient uses.  Despite the adverse outcome for the park owners, PLF’s amicus arguments in support of the owners were well-received by the court.  For a further explanation, see our blog post on the decision.

Property Rights — Washington State

This week, PLF attorneys filed an amicus brief in support of Washington’s small family farms in the case, Whidbey Environmental Action Network v. Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board.  At issue is an Island County ordinance allowing small rural farms to implement the same environmentally friendly practices that large commercial farms enjoy. Those practices—referred to as “adaptive management” techniques—provide farmers with the necessary flexibility to make use of land that would otherwise be deemed off-limits due to its proximity to an environmentally sensitive area.  Allowing small farmers to implement those practices is vital to the ongoing viability of the region’s rural farms.  This blog post explains the case in more detail.

Economic Liberty — Organic Soil Amendment

Today we received an adverse decision in Hahn v. Department of Pesticide Regulation.  This is the case where an entrepreneur has been trying to sell “worm castings” as a soil amendment — an amendment that helps plants repel pests.  The court ruled that Mr. Hahn’s advertisements constituted “pesticidal claims” in violation of the statute, and for various procedural reasons, refused to address our argument that the concept of “pesticidal claims” is both too vague and threatening to the First Amendment to be a basis for a finding of liability.