Backed by Big Oil, House Republicans Use Military Bill in Campaign to Keep Sage Grouse off Endangered List
House Republicans are using a defense appropriations bill to do Big Oil a favor and block federal regulators from listing the sage grouse as an endangered species.
GOP lawmakers slipped into a $612 billion military bill a provision that prohibits the Department of the Interior from granting the fluffy wild bird, whose numbers have dwindled, protected status for at least 10 years. Their argument has been that the addition of the sage grouse to the federal endangered species list would hamper the military in Western states. They say the bird has been found in Washington’s Yakima Training Center; the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada; the Tooele Army Depot and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.
However, the Department of Defense never asked for the provision involving the sage grouse. Dealing with the sage grouse has not “resulted in unacceptable limits on our military readiness activities,” Mark E. Wright, a Defense Department spokesman, told The New York Times. “Because we have already undertaken these actions voluntarily, and expect to need to manage for the sage grouse indefinitely, we do not believe the listing decision—regardless of the outcome—will affect our mission activities to any great degree,” he said.
The real reason why Republicans want to deny the bird federal protections is because the listing could prevent oil and gas drilling on large tracts of land where the grouse lives.
Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, which is funded in part by contributions from the oil and gas industry, told the Times: “The impacts of this listing would be broader, geographically, than any other endangered species that the government has ever listed. It covers 150 million acres of land, which is a lot of land, the whole western United States. It’s 11 states. A third of the country would be affected.”
That explains why Western Energy Alliance, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance and their member companies, who have given generously to Republican congressional campaigns, have lobbied their favorite representatives to keep the sage grouse off the endangered list.
To Learn More:
Puffy, Feathered Sticking Point of a $612 Billion House Bill (by Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times)
GOP Resists Efforts to Protect Sage-Grouse Habitat (by Lisa Neff, Wisconsin Gazette)
As GOP Pushes Listing Delay, Sage Grouse Numbers have Tumbled – Report (by Phil Taylor, E&E Publishing)
Obama Administration Dodges Congress, Doubles Marine Sanctuaries off Northern Coast (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)
Congress Slips Anti-Wolf Rule into Budget Bill…First-Ever Intervention with Endangered Species (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
House Republicans Move against Wolves (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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