For many years, agriculture fought estate taxes – eventually calling them death taxes – because of their pernicious effects on family businesses and succession. It wasn't until home prices and the values of general family businesses increased enough to bump up against tax limits that the issue gained serious political traction. Agriculture joined with small business groups to make major inroads on the death tax.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is another prime example of overreaching federal government power, drawing opposition from the timber industry and agriculture early on.
Years ago, the Northwest timber industry warned that the ESA and the spotted owl restrictions would put it out of business and decimate the region's towns and communities. Little mercy escaped from federal agencies or Congress and the timber industry's predictions came true, devastating whole regions in the Pacific Northwest.
Western livestock operators have railed against the restrictions and costs the ESA forced on them for decades. Livestock groups, key legal groups and certain intrepid individuals have fought battles against ESA's efforts to restrict and eliminate private property rights, while the gathering storm threatened extinction of the western livestock business.
Now, it is encouraging to see a state and another industry group join the fight. With many American voters finally beginning to doubt man-made global warming, grasping the costs added to their gasoline and energy bills by government global warming prescriptions and favoring using our country's energy resources, a new ESA battleground is opening up.
The Oklahoma attorney general has filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on behalf of the state of Oklahoma and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance (DEPA) over its practices for listing animals and plants under the ESA Act ("A Chicken Endangers Boom in Oil and Gas," Investor's Business Daily, 03/18/14).
I've covered before the technique activist groups use to achieve their goals – manipulating the courts to force government agencies to do what the groups want. Activist groups meet with like-minded bureaucrats within government agencies and decide together what they want to accomplish. Then the activist groups sue the government agency for not having done it already. They pick a court venue they believe will be favorable to their viewpoint. If they get the court ruling they want – to "settle" the case – the federal agency works out a private agreement with the activist groups (affected industries and communities not participating) to agree to do what it wanted to do all along – but for which it didn't have statutory authority.
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