Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneParnell exit threatens to hurt Trump's political clout Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama McConnell, Schumer hunt for debt ceiling off-ramp MORE (R-S.D.) said the Obama administration has abused the Endangered Species Act in order to assert its environmental priorities on private landowners.

“I am deeply concerned that these latest proposals relating to the Endangered Species Act are further examples of the ongoing land grab by the Obama administration, without regard to extreme economic consequences,” Thune said Wednesday. 


Thune’s comments came as he lead a group of Republican senators in sending a letter to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) withdraw proposed rules regarding habitat protection for endangered species.

“The ESA is designed to protect endangered species, not serve as a tool for agencies to intrude on millions of acres of private land,” Thune said. “These rules would allow both the FWS and NMFS unprecedented federal authority and would place strict limitations on the land preventing productive and beneficial use.”

The federal agencies have suggested rules to broaden the ability to designate areas as critical habitats — even if species are no longer living in the area.

The Republican senators said the administration’s overstep would negatively affect jobs. In addition to Thune, Sens. David Vitter (La.), John Boozman (Ark.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) signed the letter.