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Politics & Government

Idaho Senator Risch Bill Looks To Throw Out Federal Land Policies On Sage Grouse

J. Scott Applewhite
AP Images
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, left, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 17, 2017, during the committee's confirmation hearing for Interior Secretary-designate Ryan Zinke.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) has introduced a bill to give states more responsibility to manage conservation of the greater sage grouse. It comes as GOP control of Congress and the executive branch begin to shift western land management policy.

In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided not to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act – instead approving strict land management plans that limit mining activities across 10 million acres.

Since then, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has voiced his frustration – detailed in a lawsuit he brought against the Obama administration. According to the court filings, Idaho was cut out of the planning process and the state’s work on the issue was disregarded. But a federal judge dismissed the state’s lawsuit earlier this year, ruling the state hadn’t proved injury and therefore did not have standing in the case.

Sen. Risch’s bill, which was introduced last week, would give states the option to block those federal land use plans. The proposal would bar federal officials from listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act until at least 2027. Risch Communications Director Kaylin Minton says the dismissed Idaho lawsuit was not a factor in the senator’s bill.

According to E&E Daily, Risch’s bill is identical to a House proposal by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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