Changes to endangered species rule a win for small business

Date: August 19, 2019

Ranchers, farmers, homebuilders, and other small business owners are now less likely to lose the use of their property from overly broad interpretations of the Endangered Species Act. Last week (8/12), the U.S. Department of Interior responded to NFIB’s request for an update to the rules with a new deregulatory measure designed to promote conservation while minimizing burdens for small business landowners.


Under the old system, federal agents were able to impose draconian land use restrictions that often prohibited people from development or even doing business on their own property. The restrictions were put into effect whenever a species classified as “threatened” was said to be found near land deemed a “critical” habitat. The definitions for each of these terms were loosely applied, giving agencies tremendous power over private land.


NFIB filed a petition that triggered re-evaluation of the old rules in April 2016. The newly finalized regulation saves extraordinarily burdensome remedies for only the most extraordinary situations. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services must now make more reasoned decisions to determine what level of regulation actually is appropriate. The change is designed to ensure a calibrated approach to regulation, which allows greater flexibility for the regulated community while encouraging private conservation efforts.


“We’re thrilled that the administration has heard NFIB’s concerns,” said Karen Harned, Executive Director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. “The new rules will go a long way toward easing pressures on small business while promoting a richness and diversity of species in a far more effective way.”


Under the modernized regulation, federal officials must also make their decisions based on sound science, which will help make enforcement efforts more consistent and predictable. NFIB will closely monitor implementation as it continues working on behalf of its members to ensure the needs and concerns of small business are taken into account by policymakers and regulators.

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