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The Power of the Purse, and What That Potentially Means This Holiday Season

Long ago, the framers of the Constitution decided to separate the federal government’s powers into three branches, with each branch acting as a check on the other.  Broadly speaking, the legislative branch writes the law, the judicial branch decides what the law means, and the executive branch decides how to enforce the law.  Sometimes, however, the powers … Continue Reading

House of Representatives Seeks To Clarify Lack Of Liability for Incidental and Accidental Take under Migratory Bird Treaty Act

On November 8, 2017, the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources approved an amendment to oil and gas-related legislation, the SECURE Act (H.R. 4239), that is intended to obviate liability for the incidental or accidental take of migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. § 703 et seq. (“Act”).  The amendment, submitted … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Reinstates Special Rule Regulating Take of Utah Prairie Dog

On March 29, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held (PDF) that Congress has authority under the Commerce Clause to regulate the take of the Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens).  Because Congress has this authority, it could authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to do the same. The Utah … Continue Reading

White House Chief of Staff Orders Freezing of Pending Regulations

On January 20, 2017, Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, issued a memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies ordering them to freeze the processing of all regulations.  The stated intent of this action is to ensure that “the President’s appointees or designees have the … Continue Reading

Bipartisan ESA Bill Proposes Funding for State Programs

In a year that has already seen its fair share of attempts to reform the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), another proposal has made its way into the House of Representatives.  Representatives Don Young (R-Alaska) and Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) introduced the “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act” (H.R. 5650) on July 7, 2016.  The bill is based on … Continue Reading

Wolf-Rider Introduced in House Funding Bill

As recently reported by the Center for Biological Diversity, a rider has been proposed for an appropriations bill that would provide $1.5 billion to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2017.  The controversial rider would remove current Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolf populations in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Wyoming.  The appropriations bill, which is currently … Continue Reading

Senate Hears Testimony on Senator Feinstein’s Emergency Drought Relief Bill

On May, 17, 2016, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Energy held hearings on a number of pending bills, including S. 2533, sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA).  The bill, titled “California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act,” is aimed at … Continue Reading