U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement regarding a recent federal court decision in Utah, which sides with States' rights and private property owner advocates who argue that the federal government infringed on property decisions using the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specifically, the decision confirms that the Obama administration may not disregard the Constitution in imposing harmful land-use restrictions for the Utah prairie dog and other species on private lands.

"The Obama Administration has launched an assault on private property rights through abusive tactics under the Endangered Species Act. The Court's exercise of common sense is great news for private property owners and state economies that have been subjugated under the Administration's manipulation of the ESA," said Vitter. "This week's decision also serves as an important reminder that the Constitution protects private property owners and localities from the increasing overreach of federal bureaucracies during President Obama's tenure."

The Obama Administration has continually expanded its authority under the ESA, which has led to project delays, increased costs that must be shouldered by businesses and threatened private property rights across the nation. In this instance they overstepped by claiming they had the regulatory authority to prohibit actions on private lands related to the Utah prairie dog, a species that exists only in Utah.

In April 2013, People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (PETPO) filed a lawsuit, charging that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) does not have the authority to regulate the Utah prairie dog on private lands in Utah under the Constitution's Commerce Clause. PETPO argued that the Utah prairie dog is found only in Utah and has no commercial, economic value, and thus, use of the Commerce Clause is inappropriate. This week's district court decision agreed with PETPO's argument that the Commerce Clause "does not authorize Congress to regulate takes of purely intrastate species that has no substantial effect on interstate commerce."

Vitter has been raising concerns about the Administration's abuse of the ESA for several years. Most recently, in October, Vitter sent a letter to the Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce requesting that the FWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service withdraw two proposed rulemakings and a draft policy on critical habitat designations under the ESA. Also signing the letter were the top Republicans of the Senate Committees and Subcommittees with jurisdiction over the ESA. Click here to read more. Vitter has also raised serious concerns with the collusion between wealthy foundations and donors based in New York, Washington D.C. and California that are largely funding the environmental movement and coordinating "sue and settle" agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.