Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s intentions to fast-track federally mandated amendments to Western state sage-grouse plans were leaked today. Based on agency and state officials familiar with the decision, The New York Times reports that the Department of the Interior will publish a formal notice of intent to amend state-based sage-grouse habitat management plans sometime this week.
Statement by Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project:
“These actions put at risk not only sagebrush landscapes but the communities in the rural West whose economies rely on more than just the oil and gas industry. Secretary Zinke is pushing through federally mandated changes to existing state wildlife and sage-grouse habitat management plans that were the product of years of state-based collaborative work between stakeholders. Every rancher, hunter, wildlife advocate and community member in sagebrush country should be concerned with the heavy hand of Zinke’s mandate that was passed to appease special interests.”
In August, after Secretary Zinke’s handpicked sage-grouse review team made their recommendations public, the Western Values Project (WVP) released a memo showing the recommendations were a near carbon copy of requests from the oil and gas industry. The analysis found that 13 of the 15 recommendations requested by the oil and gas lobbyists were adopted. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on August 21 by WVP seeking information related to the review recommendations has still gone unfulfilled by the Interior Department.
The leaked oil and gas lobby document can be found here.
The side-by-side comparison can be found here.