Interior Reverses Controversial MBTA Interpretation

eagleThe Department of the Interior on Dec. 22 reversed a controversial Obama Administration decision to subject private landowners, including home builders, to federal prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

The decision nullifies the previous legal interpretation of the act that included civil and criminal penalties for unintentional “incidental takings,” or killing or injuring endangered species.

“Reading the MBTA to capture incidental takings casts an astoundingly large net that potentially transforms the vast majority of average Americans into criminals,” the decision read in part.

“NAHB is pleased to see the department’s principal deputy solicitor make this change,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald in a statement Friday.

“It made no sense to hold landowners responsible for the lives of more than 1,000 different species of birds protected under the act and make them risk significant fines or even criminal prosecution if, during the course of normal business operations including building a home, a bird was accidentally injured or killed.

“The decision today demonstrates the Trump administration’s commitment to a common-sense regulation. NAHB views the action by the Department of the Interior as providing small businesses like most home builders with the regulatory clarity and certainty they need from the federal government.”

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