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Attacking sage-capercaillie advances without serious science or law considerations

The Bureau of Land Management released six environmental impact statements this week to expand leasing, drilling and other industrial activities to millions of acres of habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse. This area includes Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California, and Oregon. This new review comes more than a year after a court found the Agency’s previous procedure to be inadequate.

“This government continues to ignore the best interests of Western communities,” said Brian Rutledge, director of the National Audubon Society’s Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative. “It looks like the agency just added a layer of cheap veneer to the old environmental review that the court invalidated. It is difficult to see how this insincere effort will fulfill Judge Winmill’s orders. “

In its ruling, the court found that the BLM is likely to have violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in several ways by not taking into account the effects of changes that are contrary to accepted science and the cumulative effects of the change on the The entire world has not taken into account affected states that do not examine other alternatives and do not carry out additional analyzes, although the use of compensatory mitigation to combat damage to habitat has been significantly changed.

Greater Sage-Grouse, Copyright John C Carlson, from the Surfbirds Galleries

“They went to more trouble writing the boiler plate language to conduct this second review than they did considering scientific or public comments,” added Rutledge. “The people in the five states who have worked hard on the solution they want to undo, and the ecosystem and bird in balance, deserve a lot more than that.”

A report published by Audubon in July 2019 in conjunction with the National Wildlife Federation and Wilderness Society demonstrates the risks posed by this government’s actions and finds that leasing and drilling in this government-approved habitat for sage grouse despite a Requirement increased significantly in 2015, BLM plans to prioritize development outside the habitat of the sage-capercaillie.

In response to a lawsuit by Audubon and other partners, a court ruled that the BLM’s actions violated the 2015 plans and invalidated the BLM’s guidelines. However, these guidelines are the “answer” to comments that raise concerns about this practice in these environmental impact statements.

“BLM specifically relies on invalid guidelines to justify its actions and shows how far the agency has deviated from the path set out in the original plans and how little effort it has made to deal with court rulings based on the folly of theirs Indicate actions. ” said Nada Culver, vice president of public land and senior policy counsel for the National Audubon Society.

The role the BLM plays in managing the habitat in which this iconic Western bird is found is critical to determining its future, as much of the birds can be found in federally administered areas in 10 states. Plans for 2015 included strong science-based protection for the bird’s main habitat and assurances that the amount of habitat damaged would be limited. This was the basis for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination that the species did not warrant federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

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