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THE COWBOY LIBERTARIAN: Why the Range War In the West Matters

• FoxNews

Last July I wrote a piece for the Fox Forum called "Range War in the West" in which I described how one outlaw environmental group, the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) was trying to run ranchers and sheepherders off the public lands that belong to all of us and that the ranchers have used under permit and strict federal guidelines for 75 years.

And their weapon of choice? The lawsuit.

They are using the federal courts and a law meant to protect small businesses, farmers and ranchers from an overbearing and overreaching federal government to put some of your fellow citizens out of business.

Let me explain.

Almost 30 years ago, with the best of intentions Congress passed the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). Simply stated the EAJA said that if the government had done wrong against small businesses, including farms and ranches, and they challenged the government in federal court, they would not have to go bankrupt awash in legal fees from protecting their rights. Call it a leveling of the playing field. If they were victorious in court, the government would have to pay their legal fees. Sounds fair right?

But as with all good intentions, there are some radical environmentalists who have figured out a way to use EAJA against those same small businesses in order to further their radical environmental goals. And even though they aren't being sued directly the ranchers must hire lawyers to give them a seat at the table. -- That's kind of like paying to watch your own hangin'.

In the last 10 years in one Federal District Court in Boise, Idaho, Western Watersheds Project has received $1,150,528.00 of your tax dollars for their jihad against the ranchers and sheep men. They have a found judge in that particular court who has been particularly accommodating to them and who seems to have his thumb on the scales of justice in their favor.

And that is just one organization. It is estimated that in that same time frame billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent settling these ridiculous legal claims.


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