Public Lands Watch: Sage Grouse Plans Move Forward
Administration takes next steps to scale back protections for iconic Western bird on federal public lands.
I’ve posted before about proposals by the Trump Administration to roll back protections for the sage grouse, an iconic species of the Western United States, from oil and gas development on federal public lands. (The initial blog post with background is here; the specific proposed revisions are here.) The Administration has now issued a final environmental review document for those changes, which means that the regulatory changes can now been made (specifically, changes to planning documents for public lands in the relevant states – those planning documents control what kinds of management decisions can occur on those lands). (Federal Register notice of the review documents is here; the website for the overall program along with links to the review documents is here.) The changes allow states to maintain the existing protections, and according to news reports, some states seem likely to do that. However, the overall result will be millions of acres of public lands open to oil and gas drilling – bad news for the sage grouse and other wildlife, and bad news for our climate. The regulatory changes will certainly provoke administrative appeals and litigation by environmental groups, states, and other interest groups, which will likely take a whiles to resolve.