UPDATE 2: U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet weighed in on the passage of the omnibus bill, which also would prevent federal government overreach, according to the Washington Times:
Sen. Michael Bennet, Colorado Democrat, said Monday he was “disappointed” over the passage of the rider, which blocks the Fish and Wildlife Service from listing two types of sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act until September, saying the provision creates “uncertainty.”
UPDATE 1: The inclusion of language preventing the Gunnison Sage Grouse’s listing as “Endangered” in the omnibus bill has no bearing on Colorado’s decision to sue FWS.
The decision by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Gunnison Sage Grouse as threatened last month apparently has ruffled a few feathers. In case you missed it, the folks on the West Slope have bent over backwards trying to accommodate this bird’s irrationally delicate mating ritual only to have FWS declare it Threatened anyway. Last week, it was noted that the much-maligned omnibus spending bill blocked Fish and Wildlife from adding the bird to the Endangered Species List. From the Washington Post:
“In a victory for the GOP, the bill would ban the Fish and Wildlife Service from adding the rare bird found in several Western states to the Endangered Species List. Republicans argue that adding the bird to the list “would have severe economic consequences on Western states and the nation’s efforts to become energy independent.” But there’s also $15 million for the Bureau of Land Management to conserve sage-grouse habitats.”
Then, in a Friday afternoon news dump, Governor Hickenlooper announced, via the Attorney General’s office, that Colorado would sue over the decision to list the Gunnison Sage Grouse as Threatened. Apparently, the Endangered Species Act requires that the state give 60 days’ notice of the state’s intention to sue before filing a complaint. The best part of the letter? The fact that Colorado is calling out FWS for not using best-available science. From the letter:
“In making the listing decision, FWS improperly analyzed the required factors to make its determination that the Gunnison sage-grouse is threatened; failed to rely on the best-available science; and failed to give adequate weight to the extensive conservation efforts undertaken by state and local governments and private landowners. In designating critical habitat for the Gunnison sage-grouse, FWS failed to consider the economic impacts of the designation and failed to demonstrate that currently unsuitable habitat included in the designation is essential to the conservation of the species.”
The Peak emailed the Attorney General’s office to ask how the omnibus inclusion impacts its lawsuit (if at all). We will update when we hear back. Nonetheless, the Gunnison sage grouse listing is yet another example of federal government overreach into Colorado – and another example of environmentalists run amok. Of course, if anyone honestly believed that environmentalists were purely in this to save the environment, it might be easier to swallow. As it is, just last week, it was revealed that the Peruvian government likely will file criminal charges against Greenpeace activists who allegedly destroyed a World Heritage site during a publicity stunt. Doctor heal thyself before imposing over-the-top regulations on Colorado’s communities, eh?