Trump Plans Major Rollback of Sage Grouse Protections to Spur Oil Exploration

In instances the place drilling was permitted within the habitat, it got here with restrictions similar to bans on drilling throughout mating season. The Obama plan additionally restricted development of drilling infrastructure, similar to pipelines and roads, in sage grouse habitat and required corporations that drill in restricted areas to pay right into a fund to protect and shield different habitat areas.

The new Trump proposal, which is anticipated to be finalized subsequent 12 months, would restrict that extremely protected space to 1.eight million acres and remove the requirement that corporations pay into the habitat preservation fund, though corporations may pay into it voluntarily.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, which printed the proposal, stated the brand new plan wouldn’t strip away all protections of sage grouse habitat. It would take away the “sagebrush focal areas” designation from the 9 million acres, however she stated it could go away different conservation measures in place.

“Taking away the ‘sagebrush focal area’ protection would be removing just one of multiple layers of protection,” stated the spokeswoman, Heather Feeney. There would nonetheless be buffer zones banning the destruction of sage grouse habitat close to nests, and drilling and mining corporations would have to apply for waivers to destroy habitat.

Environmentalists, nonetheless, stated that may quantity to a serious weakening of environmental protections, and famous that it could be comparatively simple for corporations to obtain the waivers from an administration that’s actively selling new drilling.

“It’s true that there are still some conservation measures in place,” Nada Culver, a lawyer with the Wilderness Society, stated. “But now, if a company says, ‘I don’t want to comply with those protections,’ then the Interior Department can just give them a permit that says, ‘Go ahead, you’re allowed to destroy the habitat.’”

States may decide to maintain the Obama-era protections in place, and will additionally require corporations to pay in to related state-level funds. At least two states, Montana and Oregon, are anticipated to maintain the protections in place, however different states, together with Idaho and Utah, plan to comply with the loosening of the federal guidelines.

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