clearn.png
Wednesday January 19th, 2022 9:05PM

Biden mulls reversing Trump rules on western grouse species

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday said it will consider new measures to protect greater sage grouse, a bird species once found across much of the U.S. West that has suffered drastic declines in recent decades due to oil and gas drilling, grazing, wildfires and other pressures.

The announcement of a range-wide evaluation of habitat plans for greater sage grouse came after the Trump administration tried to scale back conservation efforts adopted when Biden was vice president in 2015.

A federal court blocked Trump's changes. But Biden administration officials said the attempt set back conservation efforts — even as the chicken-sized bird's habitat was further ravaged by wildfires, invasive plant species and continued development.

Industry groups have resisted further restrictions, such as wide buffers where drilling would be prohibited. Biologists have said those buffers are needed to protect sage grouse breeding areas where the birds engage in elaborate annual mating rituals.

Some environmentalists insisted that the 2015 plans didn't go far enough because of loopholes that allowed grazing and drilling on land that sage grouse need.

Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Nada Culver said “everything's on the table” as the agency launches its evaluation of sage grouse habitat, with no set deadlines for action.

“From changes to the buffers, to how we manage energy development, to how we manage every other activity....we are evaluating it and we are looking for input on what are the most important things to look at,” Culver said.

Officials also will look at how climate change is adding to pressures on sage grouse. Culver pointed to data showing wildfires burned almost 10,700 square miles (28,000 square kilometers) of the bird's habitat since 2016. The vast majority of those fires were on federal lands.

Greater sage grouse once numbered in the millions across all or portions of 11 Western states. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey said earlier this year that their numbers are down 65% since 1986.

In 2010, U.S. wildlife officials said drastic habitat losses meant protections for sage grouse had become warranted for under the Endangered Species Act. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not take any action at the time, saying other species took priority.

In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined protections were no longer needed after other federal agencies and states adopted sweeping land management plans meant to halt or reverse the species’ decline. The plans were billed as a compromise, but some were quickly unraveled after Trump took office in 2017 and states sought changes to the documents that critics said would hurt grouse.

The quirky birds with long, pointed tail feathers are known for elaborate courtship display in which male birds puff up air sacs in their chests to make an odd popping sound.

Federal officials said in May response to a court order that they would consider a ban on new mining on large expanses of public lands to help the birds. A ban on mining that officials sought to impose under former President Barack Obama was dropped by the Trump administration.

The affected lands under Obama totaled 10 million acres (4 million hectares) in Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. The land bureau will include those lands and additional options, spokesperson Alyse Sharpe said.

The court order came in a lawsuit from environmentalists that's still pending before U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill in Idaho. The judge faulted the Trump administration in February for ignoring prior science on the issue.

Erik Molvar with Western Watersheds Project, the lead plaintiff in the case, said falling back on the Obama-era management plans would not be enough to protect the birds. The plans made it too easy for oil companies and ranchers to disturb the bird's sage brush habitat, he said.

__

Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter: MatthewBrownAP

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
NASCAR to resume practice and qualifying in 2022
NASCAR will return both practice and qualifying to its weekend schedule for all three national series in 2022
10:55AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Two Democratic senators oppose Powell as Fed chair
Two Senate Democrats said Friday they oppose the reappointment of Jerome Powell as chair of the Federal Reserve, as President Joe Biden is expected to announce within days who he will pick for the nation’s most powerful economic position
10:43AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Dems' sweeping social, climate bill passes divided House
A sharply divided House has approved the Democrats’ sweeping social and environment bill, a big victory for President Joe Biden
10:42AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Stocks open mostly lower, but tech companies edge higher
Stocks are off to a mostly lower start on Wall Street Friday, though gains for some big technology companies are sending the Nasdaq a bit higher
9:44AM ( 1 hour ago )
Bowing to protests, India's Modi agrees to repeal farm laws
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he would repeal the controversial agriculture laws that sparked yearlong protests from tens of thousands of farmers and posed a significant challenge to his administration
9:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
US expands COVID boosters to all adults, final hurdle ahead
The Food and Drug Administration has opened up COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, letting them choose another dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
9:18AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
House moves toward OK of Dems' sweeping social, climate bill
Democrats have brushed aside monthslong divisions and are approaching House passage of their expansive social and environment bill
8:03AM ( 3 hours ago )
Modi vows to repeal India farm laws after prolonged protests
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his government will withdraw the controversial agriculture laws that prompted yearlong protests from tens of thousands of farmers and posed a significant political challenge to his administration
5:46AM ( 5 hours ago )
India to repeal controversial farm laws that led to protests
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said his government will withdraw the controversial farm laws that prompted year-long protests from tens of thousands of farmers who said the laws will shatter their livelihoods
11:30PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Differences endure as Biden brings back North America summit
North America’s leaders are reviving three-way summitry after a Trump-era break
9:03AM ( 1 day ago )
Biden pushes electric vehicle chargers as energy costs spike
President Joe Biden is highlighting billions of dollars in his big new infrastructure deal to pay for the installation of electric vehicle chargers across the country
5:52PM ( 1 day ago )
4 ex-coal mine officials cleared in Kentucky fraud trial
A federal jury has cleared four former coal company officials who were accused of skirting dust rules in two underground Kentucky mines
5:35PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
NASCAR to resume practice and qualifying in 2022
NASCAR will return both practice and qualifying to its weekend schedule for all three national series in 2022
10:55AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Two Democratic senators oppose Powell as Fed chair
Two Senate Democrats said Friday they oppose the reappointment of Jerome Powell as chair of the Federal Reserve, as President Joe Biden is expected to announce within days who he will pick for the nation’s most powerful economic position
10:43AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Stocks wobble as Wall Street heads for a mixed weekly finish
Stocks wobbled in morning trading on Wall Street Friday and major indexes were on track for a mixed finish to a choppy week
10:31AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Dems' sweeping social, climate bill passes divided House
A sharply divided House has approved the Democrats’ sweeping social and environment bill, a big victory for President Joe Biden
10:30AM ( 36 minutes ago )
Biden to have routine colonoscopy, transfer power to Harris
The White House says President Joe Biden will briefly transfer power to Vice President Kamala Harris when he undergoes a “routine colonoscopy.”
10:28AM ( 38 minutes ago )