Ahead of Sage-Grouse Hearing Even Republicans Don’t Want, Grijalva Highlights Lack of Military or Local Demand for “Reform”

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing on the Republican effort to tear up the multi-state conservation plan for greater sage-grouse habitat – a negotiated product meant to forestall the bird’s listing through the Endangered Species Act – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) questioned in whose interests Republicans are acting, given the lack of demand from the military branches they claim to be helping or from Western states that support the conservation plan.

John Tubbs, the director of Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, will testify at the hearing that his state supports the collaborative state-federal conservation plan for sage-grouse and warn of the consequences for Western state economies of the Trump administration’s rollback.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered a “review” of the Obama-era habitat conservation plan in early June, which ultimately concluded – despite Republican lawmaker input to the contrary – that only state agencies should manage sage-grouse habitat. On Oct. 5 the Bureau of Land Management issued a formal notice of intent to reconsider the multi-state plan, but as the Washington Post recently reported:

However, unlike most other regulatory changes undertaken by the Trump administration, this one doesn't have the full endorsement of local Republican politicians representing states with energy interests. [. . .]

“We understand that you are considering changing the Department’s approach to sage-grouse, moving from a habitat management model to one that sets population objectives for the states,” [Wyoming Gov. Matt] Mead and [Colorado Gov. John] Hickenlooper wrote [to Zinke]. “We are concerned that this is not the right decision.” [. . .]

“We can’t have wholesale changes in wildlife management every four or eight years,” [Mead] told the Casper Star-Tribune this week. “I don’t think that is the best way to sustain populations or provide the necessary predictability to industry and business in our states.”

“First it was all about military readiness, and then the service branches told us even an  Endangered Species listing wouldn’t affect military training in the slightest,” Grijalva said today. “After the Republicans had to stop hiding behind the military, we heard states across the West supposedly want to destroy this agreement they just negotiated and start from scratch. As we’ll hear on Wednesday, that’s not the case. This is about a fact-free, ideological attack on federal land management, not meeting any legitimate demand, and Republicans should remember they’re not fooling anyone about that.”

Tomorrow’s hearing will not feature any proposed legislation, Grijalva pointed out, because Bishop has no confidence that a bill attacking proper management of sage-grouse could withstand scrutiny from sportsmen’s groups, Republican governors and the American people.

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