President's weekly report — September 5, 2013

September 06, 2013 | By ROB RIVETT

Environment — Oysters 

The Ninth Circuit issued this adverse decision in Drakes Bay Oyster Company v. JewellThis involves the National Park Service’s drive to shut down a long-established oyster farm in Drakes Bay, off  the coast of Northern California.  When a National Park was established the preexisting oyster farm was given a long-term lease.  After the Park Service came up with some very questionable allegations about environmental harm caused by the oyster farm, it refused to renew the leases — even after Congress passed a special bill giving it the authority to do so.  While the court ruled that the Park Service’s authority to deny a permit renewal was not unlimited, it essentially deferred to the agency’s interpretation of the statute and held further that the National Environmental Policy Act did not apply to the decision.  PLF plans to file an amicus brief.

Environment — Santa Cruz Cypress

The Fish & Wildlife Service released a proposed rule to downlist the Santa Cruz Cypress in response to our petition and lawsuit.

Environment — Grey Wolf

We filed comments today supporting Fish & Wildlife’s proposal to delist almost every gray wolf population in the lower 48, and warning against dividing any subspecies into smaller “distinct population segments” for the purpose of relisting the wolves.  A listing under the Endangered Species Act should be based on science; because the science demonstrates that wolf populations are thriving and in no danger of extinction, they should be counted as a success story and removed from the list.


Property Rights — Washington State

The Washington Supreme Court denied review in Manna Funding v. Kittitas County.  In this case, a lower court found that a land use decision was unlawful and deprived a landowner of her property rights.  But it also refused to award damages — thus making her victory meaningless.  We filed this petition for review, urging that the court take the case.  We are weighing our options.

Economic Liberties — Right to Earn a Living

An Indiana trial court issued this favorable decision in Crowe v. Bloomington.  Here Julie Crowe wished to start up a van service for women university students who might have a strong preference for a woman driver, especially late at night when van services are especially important for public safety.  However, Ms. Crowe was prohibited from obtaining an operating license unless the City Manager decided that more competition is “desirable.”   We filed this amicus brief, arguing that the anti-competitive law served no useful purpose and was unconstitutional.