TOPEKA – (May 28, 2015) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked a federal appeals court to affirm a lower court’s ruling that the federal government has no legal authority to regulate the in-state management of an intrastate species.
In a legal brief filed this week with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which includes Kansas, Schmidt argued that Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce does not extend to purely intrastate activities that affect the management of a purely intrastate species. While the case originated from Utah and involved the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing of the Utah prairie dog, first as “endangered,” and then as “threatened,” Schmidt said the case could have significant impact on private property rights, land use and conservation in Kansas.
“This case is yet another example of federal bureaucrats trying to expand their power into a purely in-state regulatory issue,” Schmidt said. “The states have the authority to manage a species living exclusively within a state’s borders. In this case, the federal government chose to regulate an intrastate species to the detriment of public health, safety and the economic livelihood of local citizens. This is not what Congress intended in the Endangered Species Act.”
The case originated in southern Utah, where a group of citizens filed suit to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rules and regulations protecting the Utah prairie dog. The citizens argued the federal government lacked authority to regulate the management of the species on non-federal land and that the regulations stood in the way of local interests and management. In November 2014, a U.S. District Court judge in Utah agreed with the citizen group that federal regulation of the species was unconstitutional. The federal government has appealed that decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Schmidt filed the brief along with eight other attorneys general. A copy of the brief is available at http://1.usa.gov/1G2HcIi. The case is People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10th Cir. Nos. 14-4151; 14-4165.