For Immediate Release, December 10, 2014
Contact: Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Congress Prohibits Any Spending to Save Sage Grouse From Extinction
WASHINGTON— The final omnibus appropriations bill that would fund the federal government in 2015 includes a rider that would prohibit any funds from being used to save three species of sage grouse that federal scientists agree are in danger of going extinct in the near future.
“This legislation is a death warrant for these iconic birds of the West,” said Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is a blatant giveaway to the oil and gas industry and other profiteers that are perfectly content to see endangered species vanish from the Earth as long as they get to wring a few more dollars out of our public lands. It’s a destructive and cynical piece of legislation.”
History has shown that once a rider becomes law, it is almost always in appropriation bills in future years. With Republican control of Congress, it is near-certain that the oil, gas and livestock industries will keep demanding this rider so that they do not have to change the status quo. As a result the sage grouse, elk, mule deer, native trout and more than 300 other species of conservation concern that depend on sagebrush habitat will continue to decline.
“This is not just about the sage grouse,” Spivak said. “This is part of a broad attack on our environmental laws that protect people, wildlife and nature.”
Specifically the rider listing prohibits the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from spending any funds in 2015 on a pending decision to protect the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. It also prohibits spending on finalizing federal protection for the Mono Basin sage grouse and the Gunnison sage grouse.
“The Mono Basin subspecies of the sage grouse simply can’t wait any longer for protections under the Endangered Species Act,” Spivak said. “With a small, isolated population, it’s circling the drain.”
These species have suffered decades of habitat destruction from oil gas development, livestock grazing and habitat fragmentation. Only when the Fish and Wildlife Service entered into a legal settlement to make decisions on whether or not to protect these grouse species did any of the western states and federal land-management agencies finally begin to seriously work to conserve sage grouse habitat. Now the primary incentive to bring modern, science-based conservation practices to the western sagebrush ecosystems has been removed.
“The attack on these rare and vanishing birds was deliberate and coordinated,” Spivak said. “Not only does the omnibus bill throw sage grouse under the bus, but the livestock industry lobby also successfully stuck a rider onto the National Defense Authorization Act that would automatically renew expiring grazing permits on public lands, even if these permits are causing the decline of greater sage grouse and other sensitive wildlife species on nearly 60 million acres of our public lands.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.