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Law & the Courts

One Tiny Victory over the Regulatory State: Prairie Chicken Edition

In times like these I wonder how anyone can continue to trust government officials and most politicians. Only in the last few days we have had: the White House’s deception on the Iran nuclear deal, new evidence that Hillary Clinton did indeed break a bunch of rules with her secret e-mail server (I predict without much consequences for her), the revelation that the additional $10 billion meant to fix the VA only produced longer waiting time for veterans to see their doctors, and data showing the abuse of civil-asset forfeiture by federal law-enforcement agencies.

Add to that how deceptive big-government-loving media figures can be, and the fact that the dislike for both the Republican and the Democratic presidential nominees is record breaking, and you might as well take cover, never read the news or get on Twitter, and wait for better days.

That’s why I figured I would give everyone a little break to report one tiny example of Americans winning over big-government power-grabbing bureaucrats. It involves the lesser prairie chicken, green activists, and the Endangered Species Act.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Victories against the Obama regulatory juggernaut are rare, and thus all the more worthy of note. Congratulations, then, to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Republicans in Congress over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision on May 10 to drop its quest to list the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered species.

Fish and Wildlife’s decision in 2014 to list was never about helping that particular range bird. It was part of an attempted federal land grab by green activists. Using a strategy called “sue and settle,” these groups propose species for protected status under the Endangered Species Act, then sue the Obama Administration to follow through. The agency then settles the suits on terms that the greens want.

Their goal in the case of the prairie chicken was to impose development restrictions on private landowners in five western states. Because the prairie chicken’s range is so wide, the greens hoped to shut down oil and gas drilling in much of the West, especially and around the fossil-fuel rich Permian Basin.

Good news. The whole thing is here.

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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