The Trump administration recently published supplemental environmental analyses as a band-aid to previously-issued environmental impact statements found deficient by a federal judge. The previous statements were issued as part of the administration’s effort to rollback Obama-era protections for Greater sage-grouse to advance its energy dominance agenda. However, the publications do not alter the substance of the rollbacks proposed earlier or otherwise improve the fate of the Greater sage-grouse. The public can submit comments for the next 45 days until April 6.
Vera Smith, Senior Federal Lands Policy Analyst, issued statement:
“The supplemental sage grouse documents published today by the Trump administration are simply an effort to paper over deficiencies in its previous environmental analysis and expedite unravelling of protections for the imperiled Greater-sage grouse. Today’s action does not change the fact that the administration is dead set on opening up sage-grouse habitat to drilling and fracking.”
- The sagebrush steppe ecosystem is the home of the iconic Greater sage-grouse. Conserving sage-grouse benefits a host of other species in the Sagebrush Sea, like pronghorn, elk, mule deer, native trout, pygmy rabbit and nearly 200 migratory and resident bird species. Historically covering vast acreages of the interior west, the sagebrush steppe habitat has been developed and fragmented to such a degree that the Greater sage-grouse’s long-term survival is in question.
- In 2015, the Obama administration released a conservation plan for the bird that included 98 amendments to federal land use plans that limited development in important sage-grouse habitat and required mitigation that would result in a net conservation gain for the grouse. The plans, along with complementary conservation commitments by affected states and localities, served as the foundation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s conclusion that listing the Greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act was not warranted.
- In March 2019, the Trump administration rolled back protections to the sage-grouse by revising the Obama sage-grouse plans. The rollbacks were challenged in court, and in October 2019 a federal judge blocked implementation of the plans until litigation is resolved.