By Mary Bowerman, WASHINGTON, D.C. – With six months until an administrative rule on whether the Gunnison sage-grouse will be protected under the Endangered Species Act, a new piece of legislation is ramping up efforts to delay a listing for 10 years.
Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, introduced the Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act on May 22. The measure would keep both the Gunnison and greater sage-grouse from becoming listed as an endangered species for 10 years, while states implement state-based conservation plans. The move comes after almost a decade of debate about whether the grouse should be listed, amid concerns from private landowners, ranchers and the energy sector.
This is good politics but bad science, said Fred Cheever, a professor of environmental and natural resources law at Sturm College of Law in Denver and an expert in the Endangered Species Act.
“A lot of this fight has to do with oil and gas,” Cheever said. “The fundamental problem with delaying 10 years is we’ve already delayed the listing for more than a decade, and the longer you wait to list, the harder and more expensive it is to recover the grouse.