Secretary Zinke shirks duties on sage-grouse, increases pressure on states

Statement of Eric Holst, Associate Vice President of Working Lands at Environmental Defense Fund

May 2, 2018
Chandler Clay, (202) 572-3312,

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 2, 2018) – The U.S. Department of Interior today began releasing draft revised federal plans for the greater sage-grouse. Among other changes, the plans propose to walk back requirements to offset impacts on federal lands – one of the key protections put in place to avoid an Endangered Species Act listing in September 2015. Mitigation rules and responsibilities for the bird could now fall to western states.

“Our biggest concern is that, by allowing each state to set its own standard for mitigation, there may be temptation for some states to favor oil and gas extraction over habitat protection. These are federal lands that belong to all Americans, and federal rules and statutes apply.

“States should maintain a strong advisory role in setting wildlife protection standards, but it is the responsibility of the Bureau of Land Management to provide strong and consistent standards across federal lands. It cannot outsource the protection of critical national assets. Doing so only increases pressure on states and puts the greater sage-grouse at risk of being added to the endangered species list.

“Instead of fulfilling his responsibility to protect America’s natural resources and heritage, Secretary Zinke is shirking his duties and letting this important role fall to states. Without consistent federal standards or requirements, some states may fall short.”

  • Eric Holst, associate vice president of working lands at Environmental Defense Fund

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