The Latest: Kansas governor vows to fight relisting of bird
Posted September 13
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Latest on the effort to restore federal protections for the lesser prairie chicken (all times local):
Oil and gas groups along with Kansas officials are vowing to fight an effort to relist the lesser prairie chicken as a federally threatened species.
Found in pockets throughout the Great Plains, the grouse was removed from the threatened and endangered species list earlier this year following court rulings in Texas. Government lawyers decided not to pursue an appeal.
Environmentalists are now pushing for federal biologists to review the bird's status and impose emergency protections.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that relisting the bird is unwarranted. He argued that drought caused a decline in the lesser prairie chicken's numbers and that the birds have come back now that the rain has returned.
He says there's habitat for the bird.
Oil and gas groups say a conservation partnership developed by states and private landowners has also helped to boost lesser prairie chicken numbers in recent years.
The fight over a grouse found in pockets across the Great Plains is far from over as industry officials worry that relisting the lesser prairie chicken as a federally protected species could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in added costs for oil and gas developers, renewable energy companies and farmers.
A coalition of environmental groups has filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They argue that key populations are in danger of extinction as climate change exacerbates problems caused by energy development, farming and other infrastructure such as roads and power lines.
The groups say emergency protections are needed for isolated populations along the Texas-New Mexico border, in Colorado and western Kansas.