The Utah Legislature budgeted $2 million for hiring lobbyists in 2013 to oppose a sage grouse listing to Congress and the federal agencies, news station KUER reported.
A document on a Utah government website says the Western Grouse Coalition has crafted a bill that would “prevent federal overreach” and keep management of sage grouse with the states.
The coalition’s partners include the Public Lands Council, the Western States Land Commissioners Association and Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee.
Ross Lane, director of the government watchdog group Western Values Project, said the group’s lobbying push is misguided.
“The Western Grouse Coalition should be helping to create adaptive management plans that benefit sportsmen, ranchers and industry,” he said in an emailed statement. “Local input is valued and necessary, but fighting the federal government at every turn is a surefire way to see the sage grouse garner an ESA listing. But coming from an organization run by an oil and gas lobbyist, that tactic doesn’t come as a surprise.”