Three conservation groups filed legal documents Tuesday to block a federal government land lease sale to oil companies to develop federal land in Utah.
The American Bird Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and Western Watersheds Project petitioned to stay a September decision by the Bureau of Land Management to offer 23 square miles of federal land leases for development. A little more than six square miles were bid on for a total of $14,837, according to a CBD press release.
The conservation groups are appealing the decision to lease the land, claiming that development on the land would harm the Greater Sage Grouse, a bird that is not endangered but is the subject of a massive conservation effort between 11 state governments and various private organizations.
“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the BLM seem determined to drive this iconic bird to extinction,” CBD senior attorney Michael Saul said. “When sage grouse and their habitat are healthy, it benefits a host of other species. The Trump administration’s reckless push for more fracking and drilling threatens to wipe out entire ecosystems.”
Zinke announced in late September an Interior Department push to reform 2015 sage grouse conservation plans put in place under former President Barack Obama, potentially allowing more flexibility throughout Greater Sage Grouse habitat for development such as ranching, farming and oil drilling.
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