Congress’ Spending Bill Pushes Sage Grouse Protections Back
BILLINGS, Montana (AP) — A legislative rider in Congress' $1.1 trillion spending bill would delay protections for a wide-ranging Western bird that's been on a collision course with the oil and gas industry.
The Obama administration faced a September 2015 deadline to propose protections for greater sage grouse. But the spending package agreed to late Tuesday by Democratic and Republican leaders prevents the administration from spending any money next year on rules to protect the ground-dwelling bird.
The bill also delays protections announced last month for the related Gunnison sage grouse. Drilling and other human activities are among the leading threats to the struggling sage grouse. Western lawmakers contend the region's economy would suffer if protections were put in place. Wildlife advocates say delaying protections could have irreversible impacts across the bird's 11-state range.