Property Wrongs: The Growth of Federal Land-Use Control

Sugg Chapter in the Property Rights Reader

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In the spring of 1974, the last bill to explicitly call for nationwide federal land use control failed in Congress.  Never since has Congress considered such legislation.  The Endangered Species Act and wetland regulations have brought federal control of private land, but such regulations have been, for the most part, piecemeal, applying only to parcels that contain federally listed species or designated wetlands.  Theoretically, wetland and wildlife have had to satisfy certain “scientific” criteria to trigger those regulations. Indeed, every regulation is predicated on some justification, however weak.  Unfortunately, these limits to regulation are on the brink of extinction.