Wichita, KS; 07/21/2023: Late yesterday, Cameron Edwards, a group of Kansas agricultural producers, and the Kansas Natural Resource Coalition (KNRC) filed suit against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to block Endangered Species Act protective regulations for the lesser prairie-chicken that would dramatically restrict land use across millions of acres.

“The Endangered Species Act requires the government to balance conservation efforts with the economic impacts of regulations,” said Charles Yates, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “The Fish & Wildlife Service plainly failed to do that in this case. It violates the constitutional separation of powers whenever an agency ignores the limitations placed on it by Congress.”

The Fish & Wildlife Service’s rule would put agricultural producers in a bind: They must either make costly changes to their land use, which could destroy their livelihoods, or keep using their land freely and productively and hope that the government doesn’t punish them. It also jeopardizes essential local government services, including the building and maintenance of roads, utility poles, and emergency radio towers. Something as simple as erecting a tower to ensure citizens are notified of a tornado warning is now regulated, and possibly prohibited by the rule.

When adopting its rule for the lesser prairie-chicken, the Fish & Wildlife Service failed to consider the economic impact of the rule and its impact on small businesses — violations of the Endangered Species Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and Regulatory Flexibility Act.

“KNRC is proud to take a stand in defense of our member counties and their constituents,” said Commissioner Gary Hayzlett, President of The Kansas Natural Resource Coalition and Chairman of the Board of Kearny County Commissioners. “This rule heavily regulates numerous essential public services, will regulate virtually anything many landowners might wish to do on their property, and will have significant negative impact on individual livelihoods. The rule should be struck down.”

KNRC is an association of 30 Kansas county governments. KNRC is joined in the lawsuit by several Kansas farmers and ranchers, including Cameron Edwards, Lone Butte Farms, Schilling Land, and JDC Farms.

The case is Kansas Natural Resource Coalition v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service , filed in United States District Court for the District of Kansas.

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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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