Conservation Begins with Multi-Generational Property Ownership

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Preserving the culture of our rural ranching, farming and agricultural heritage

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Promoting Public Debate, Agency Transparency, and Measurable Federal Accountability

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Best Management Practice: Local Resources, Local Decisions.

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Sound Policy through Interposition for Industry, Ranching & Agriculture

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Who We Are

The Kansas Natural Resource Coalition (KNRC) is a collaboration of county governments who engage federal agencies during environment and natural resource administrative rule-making processes. 

Our members understand the limited role of federal agencies, the legal parity enjoyed by local government, and that federal procedural mandates require balancing of economic, social, cultural and property interests during the outworking of natural resource policy efforts. 

When federal agencies propose rules for our region, we first investigate the statutory basis under-girding the proposal, a process we call “Show Us The Law.”  Because many administrative agencies believe they have the authority to enact law, we do not accept regulations, policies or memoranda as binding until a clear, statutory connection has been established.  Similarly, because courts Don’t Make Law, KNRC does not accept court opinions, decisions or definitions as themselves being sufficient to justify administrative proposals; we believe the legislative branch of governments to be the sole organic source of lawmaking.

How We Work

KNRC is comprised of elected commissioners from individual member counties, an executive director, a research analyst, a communications analyst and retained professional and legal staff on an as-needed basis.

Day-to-day operations are overseen by a steering committee that in turn reports to a policy committee governed by all member counties.

Each KNRC county has adopted a Natural Resource Land Use Plan that by federal statute requires review, coordination and consistency by federal agencies desiring to impose rules in the jurisdictional areas governed by those counties.

This approach maintains local voice, assures mutual access to data and science, provides a platform for genuine transparency, and ensures balanced decision-making for both the human and natural environments.

Why it’s Effective

Navigating the maze of environmental rule-makings is daunting for even the most resolved of local governments — let alone the balance of America’s 3,000-plus counties.

KNRC’s excellent research, clear understanding of administrative procedure, dogged adherence to statutory requirements and tactical application of coordination brings clarity to the process and accountability to federal agencies who have grown accustomed to bypassing — or dismissing entirely — the needs of local government.

Our philosophy, strategic plan, and long-term objectives include training, equipping and exhibiting hard-won examples for local governments across the nation.  History teaches that centralized, top-down, and autocratic governments don’t work for the long term, ultimately reverting back to local control.  

Only local government — not industry, not associations, and particularly not nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) — are permitted to leverage accountability from federal administrative agencies during natural resource policy rule-makings.

Green Watch

KNRC’s Forecast for 2018: Positive Improvement in Policy Relationships With Federal Agencies –

Tuesday, March 12, 2018 –  In December, 2017 KNRC published its “KNRC: 2013 to 2017….and Beyond” bulletin, highlighting initiatives that have contributed to reform of federal agencies and programs.  Particularly well received was KNRC’s Recommendations for Reforming the Federal Government submitted to the Office of Management and Budget in June, 2017.

Looking ahead, in 2018 KNRC will be formalizing its statewide Rails-to-Trails audit program that will aid members in tracking compliance with Interim Trail Use (NITU) permits issued by the Federal Surface Transportation Board under section 8(d) of the National Trails System (NTS) Act,  [16 U.S.C. 1247(d)]. 

The first-of-its-kind, KNRC audit program will assist members as they inspect Rails-to-Trails (R2T) projects in their counties, and document tax requirements for lands enrolled in NITU programs.

Turning to ESA issues, KNRC has requested pre-publication notice from the Department of Interior (DOI) for any actions surrounding the Lesser prairie-chicken (LPC), noting that the DOI’s Unified Agenda includes an intent to publish a notice of proposed rule-making for the LPC. 

KNRC has requested US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to audit the troubled Black-footed ferret program in Logan County, Kansas and to initiate the a species status-assessment for the Arkansas river shiner, specifically pointing out the shiner’s critical habitat contains stream segments that are dry or too intermittent to support the fish.

 

KNRC Sets its Agenda with the Department of the Interior

Thursday, March 8, 2017 — In a recent letter to the Department of the Interior (DOI), KNRC President Shawn Tasset, in response to overtures from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), shared KNRC’s 2018 regulatory agenda with the department.

With regard to the NEPA process, President Tasset reminded the DOI of KNRC’s longstanding position that all Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings must include either an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement. He also informed DOI that KNRC intends to petition the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to restore a NEPA process that appropriately balances both the human and natural environments.

Commissioner Tasset then noted Attorney General Sessions’ November 2017 directive prohibiting agency use of internal policy and guidance documents to coerce compliance with what otherwise are optional approaches to acheive compliance with federal rules and statutes.  A prolific problem across federal and state agencies, KNRC has offered its support – as local a coalition of governments –  to distinguish binding statutes from optional, agency policies.

 

 

Arizona Passes the First State Law Prohibiting Agency Use of ‘Chevron’ Deference

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 — On Thursday, April 5, 2018, the Arizona Senate passed a bill prohibiting the use of ‘Chevron’ deference by state agencies. This form of judicial deference, which allows agencies to interpret the statutes that govern their administrative rulemaking and enforcement actions, placing businesses, local government, and other regulated entities at a distinct disadvantage during legal battles with an agency action.

Under this doctrine, which has been adopted by many courts around the nation, judges must defer to an agency’s “reasonable” interpretation of a statute that agency officials find ambiguous.  The doctrine arose from the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Chevron USA, Inc. v. NRDC.

The Arizona Senate voted 18-10 in favor of House Bill 2238, which amends the state’s administrative procedure statute by directing courts to no longer defer to an agency’s interpretations in litigation over administrative decisions. The House had previously passed the legislation on a 38-21 vote.

Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill on April 11, 2018, and it is now the first state law of its kind. We hope that other state legislatures and Congress take notice and pass similar legislation to curtail the abuse that ‘Chevron’ deference and its cousins, the ‘Auer’ and ‘Baltimore Gas’ deferences  have caused the regulated community over the past several decades through executive branch actions at all levels of government.