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Freedom Fridays

Shedding Light on Unconstitutional Federal Regulations


October 20, 2017 – Protecting Americans from the Fearsome Sage Grouse


Freedom Fridays


What does this regulation do?

In 2015, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management issued a broad plan to protect the habitat and preserve the population of the greater sage grouse. The effort resulted in 98 separate land-use plans that limited development on sagebrush lands across 10 western states.


Why is this a problem?

Much of the sage grouse habitat sits on some of the nation’s most resource-rich land, greatly restricting gas and oil drilling, among other energy development projects. Restricting responsible mineral production, grazing, and other activities has resulted in job and economic losses for these states.

Additionally, the 2015 plans were subsequent to efforts by many states to increase their own sage grouse conservation efforts. Since many western states already suffer from extensive federal land holdings – 92% of all federally controlled lands are in 12 western states – these new rules further restricted states’ ability to control land use within their own borders. Rather than allowing bureaucrats sitting in Washington, D.C. to make decisions for land thousands of miles away, we should trust states to make decisions that will best suit the needs of their citizens.


How can we solve this problem?

In June, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed a Secretarial Order calling for a 60-day review of the sage grouse plans implemented by the Obama administration. In late September, following that review, Secretary Zinke released a notice of intent to reconsider and possibly amend the 98 land-use plans, and inviting the public to submit proposed changes. If you would like to submit a comment, you can do so by clicking here. I am confident Secretary Zinke will follow President Trump’s lead in scaling back regulations like these that have a negative impact on our economy.

Congressman Rob Bishop also introduced H.R.527, the Greater Sage Grouse Protection and Recovery Act, to restore power to the states to establish their own conservation and management plans. The legislation will also require the Department of Interior to honor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination that the sage grouse does not currently warrant additional protection under the Endangered Species Act. I am proud to cosponsor H.R.527.


What are they saying?

“Correcting the flawed 2015 greater sage grouse plan amendments should matter to every western community with a large federal footprint. It’s not about the bird, it’s about the federal government – in this case the BLM and US Forest Service – misusing the land planning process to accomplish environmental objectives they were unable to achieve otherwise. Despite a comprehensive NEPA process that identified wildfire and invasive weeds as the biggest threats to the species, the restrictions built in to the plans are aimed squarely at vital rural industries like grazing, mining, and timber production. Whether we’re talking about the Endangered Species Act, the Antiquities Act, or land use plan amendments like these, it’s critical that Congress and the new Administration work together to ensure that local input and rural economic viability are at the forefront of federal land management policy.” – Ethan L. Lane, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

“I appreciate Congressman Biggs’s efforts to shine a spotlight on this important issue. Secretary Zinke should be applauded for making Sage-Grouse management reform a priority and taking action to ensure coordination with local stakeholders on federal land management policies, something the Obama Administration failed to grasp. Western Caucus members look forward to working with the Secretary and working group as the Sage-Grouse review moves forward. The Department should unwind overly restrictive and job-killing changes to land use plans made by the Obama Administration. Additionally, less than 0.1% of actual sage grouse habitat exists in the proposed 10 million acre withdrawal area. This political attack on affordable American energy is not based on science and should be completely scrapped as a result. It’s high time for the misguided and out-of-touch Obama Sage-Grouse management plans to fly the coop." – Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04)