The Obama administration has initiated a plan to declare the lesser prairie chicken a threatened species, citing its imperiled habitat—which happens to cross states throughout the nation’s oil and gas belt.
Despite ongoing efforts in the affected states to avoid the listing by spending $50 million to preserve the habitat, the Interior Department is collecting public comments and will hold hearings in February.
“We are encouraged by current multi-state efforts to conserve the lesser prairie chicken and its habitat, but more work needs to be done to reverse its decline,” said Dan Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency leading the effort at the Interior Department.
Energy production disrupted
Placement of the small grouse on the Endangered Species List affects Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas, where it could significantly disrupt energy production and farming, said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
“The Obama administration’s proposed listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species could have potentially devastating job and economic impacts,” Hastings said.