Sen. Lee’s sage-grouse amendment to NDAA is bad for western economies


While you’re reading, be sure to thank Senators Tester (MT) and Bennet (CO) for their leadership on this harmful amendment HERE.

This week members of Congress are hearing a lot about Sen. Lee’s amendment to block a decision on listing the Greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for 10 years. Sen. Lee introduced this amendment to the NDAA–the defense bill that gets passed by Congress every year. It still remains to be seen whether this amendment will go through, but either way–it means nothing good for westerners.

Here’s 4 reasons why this amendment is a bad idea:

  1. This amendment threatens theunprecedented” collaborative effort from western stakeholders, state and local governments, and numerous federal agencies. It means more uncertainty, not less, for western economies. And these efforts are working—just last month, the Interior Department chose not to list a bi-state population of the sage-grouse located in California and Nevada because of its encouraging recovery.
  1. The Defense Department itself has said any sage-grouse listing decision won’t hurt military readiness, meaning this amendment is not germane to the NDAABecause they’ve already undertaken conservation measures voluntarily, according to the Defense Department, the listing decision (regardless of outcome) won’t affect mission activities.
  1. Delay amendments that push for state management of the bird could pave the way for backdoor state control down the road, something that’s been very unpopularwith westerners. Sen. Lee and his supporters have been touting this amendment as a way for states to take back some control of public land from the federal government, but what’s really needed is continued cooperation. Conservation efforts on private lands have been hugely successful, and the state and federal plans have been largely collaborative and value-added up to this point.
  1. Allowing a vote on this amendment will open the NDAA up as a vehicle for ESA riders for years to come. That’s a terrible precedent—there are plenty of other places for legal challenges to the ESA to come to light in a germane, deliberative way. The NDAA—which is vital to our country’s continued protection and success—is not that place.


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