Wyoming Liberty Group
Standing on Firm Ground: Preserving the Right to Ranch in Wyoming
Landowners and ranchers received rare news of relief last year from the U.S. Supreme Court. Far-flung accusations of environmental groups against landowners must now be heard with a healthy grain of salt. The question before the Court in Summers v. Earth Island Institute was just how great the role environmental activists should have in court proceedings regarding land use questions especially when those activists share no connection to the land in question.
These Who gets the Courts ear? questions share larger implications for those making their living in the ranching and agricultural fields. It has become trendy for radical environmentalists to regularly flood judicial proceedings with land use objections when private citizens try to make good use of their land. And that can lead to all sorts of hassles, delays and lost profits when others with no connection to the land interfere.
In Wyoming, this kind of radical intervention is becoming all too common. The federal government owns more than 42 percent of the land in Wyoming. Many ranchers are dependent on access to those lands for public grazing and would not be able to sustain viable business models if they lost their access. Recognizing this, some organizations with peculiar hostilities toward ranching have made it their business to file objections in as many grazing permit proceedings as possible. The obvious effect of this campaign would be to shut down ranching, agriculture and much of Wyoming’s way of life as we know it.
Fortunately, the Earth Island Institute ruling signals a return by the Supreme Court to first principles of constitutional law and judicial management. Where environmental protestors cannot show a concrete interest that they will be harmed by the use of land, the Court has explained that they will lack standing, or the ability to litigate in the matter. In that way, courts still preserve their power to assist citizens actually injured on or near a property, but will not permit more radical parties the right to spout out philosophical disagreements over the use of these lands.
This kind of radical environmental frolicking creates real harm for citizens in Wyoming and will be a matter closely watched by the Wyoming Liberty Group. Wyoming citizens have the constitutional right to private property protection, unimpeded access to justice and economic liberty. Ensuring these rights is central to preserving freedom in Wyoming.