Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is madder than a wet sage hen.
The House budget for the Interior Department and EPA contains 20 policy riders — including provisions that would bar listing sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act until 2017, limit EPA efforts to shut down coal-fired power plants and regulate most water in the U.S. under the Clean Water Act.
Jewell is said to be especially concerned about the sage grouse rider.
But if Sen. Dean Heller has his way the sage grouse would not be listed for 10 years. He and other Western senators are working to amend the National Defense Authorization Act to delay listing, according to an article in the Elko Daily Free Press.
“In Nevada, where mining, ranching, energy production and outdoor recreation all serve as a central component of our local economy, the administration’s overly restrictive sage-grouse management plans would be devastating,” a Heller statement reads. “Allowing our state to implement its proactive plan aimed at reducing threats, like wildfire and invasive species, to key habitats is a better path forward.”
Utah Rep. Rob Bishop has questioned the scientific basis for the rationale that sage grouse need to be listed.
“It is clear that the science used to guide new federal policies on sage grouse in the West is questionable at best. It is clear that there is a lack of continuity between science and the Department’s preferred policies,” Bishop said. “In reviewing the emails I was surprised to see that policies were being developed despite there not being sufficient science illustrating a need. It’s concerning that the DOI does not appear to be seriously considering Utah’s sage grouse management plan when there is clear turmoil on this matter within the Department itself. States, not the federal government, consistently demonstrate that they are more capable than the federal government of managing and preserving their wildlife and natural resources.”
Nevada Rep. Cresent Hardy proclaimed in a recent press release, “These restrictive plans may be well-intended, but they are coming from the wrong direction. Leave conservation efforts to local people who know and use the land best, not Washington bureaucrats who have no idea what it’s like to live and work with our state’s natural resources below ground and the magnificent species above ground.”