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.
House Votes to Kill BLM Planning 2.0 Rule –
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 – Today, the US House of Representatives voted to kill the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Planning 2.0 Rule, a controversial Regulation codified by the Obama Administration on its way out-the-door.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s resolution of disapproval, House Resolution Number 44 passed the House by a 234-186 vote – mostly along party lines – with four Democrats crossing the aisle for the bill and four Republicans voting in tandem with the Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats.
KNRC has been active in opposing the BLM Planning 2.0 Rule, which proposed top down, land use planning regulations that blatantly conflict with the statutory language of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA).
For its part, the Trump Administration issued a Policy Statement supporting HR 44 and other Rules subject to the Congressional Review Act regulatory cleaver.
The Senate version of HR 44 has taken a back seat to political gyrations surrounding the Trump administration’s cabinet nominations. Next week the Senate is expected to take up debate on the House-passed, CRA-rule killing resolutions.
District Court Rules for New Mexico in States Rights Case; USFWS Appeals –
In a closely watched case, the United States District Court For New Mexico (District Court) ruled against the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and a coalition of environmental groups, including the Defenders of Wildlife, over whether Mexican wolves can be introduced into the wild against the express wishes of the New Mexico state government.
Wolf introduction is contentious because they are highly predatory and have been documented to attack domestic livestock, game animals and threaten school children at bus stops.
Tensions were heightened when the State of New Mexico denied USFWS a permit and the ‘Service’ released the wolves anyway – in the absence of a permit, approvals or local acceptance of the program.
At issue is whether the State of New Mexico, or local government, have a right under Endangered Species Act (ESA) to deny the opportunity to release captive-bred animals within the state.
The District Court ruled on behalf of New Mexico, and USFWS has appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
This case poses a foundational question as to who — the states or federal government — have final jurisdictional authority over wildlife when conflicts arise.
In a Cooperative Agreement between the Secretary of the Interior and the State of Kansas, USFWS clearly recognizes the State of Kansas’ prerogative to regulate wildlife. In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State of Kansas and Sherman County, the state in turn recognizes the role, power, and authority of local government to regulate wildlife.
Existing agreements and permit decision-making authority should not be confused or superseded by the desire of urban-based environmental groups and federal agencies to impose ravenous wolves into communities or areas that do not want them.
We hope the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals sees it that way.
KNRC Introduces Conservation Easement Legislation –
Wednesday, February 01, 2017 – Today, legislation granting county governments the statutory authority to regulate conservation easements was introduced by KNRC into the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.
The legislation, HB 2199, was introduced by Representative Ron Highland. A FAQ summary sheet and talking points for HB 2199 has been distributed to house members, and KNRC Commissioners and those supporting local decision-making are encouraged to prepare and give testimony as a Hearing date becomes available.