A rider that would have stopped the sage grouse from receiving an endangered species listing for the next ten years was removed from a must-pass bill.
For the third year in a row, Utah Representative Rob Bishop put the language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Even though the bill isn’t intended to deal with natural resources but to fund wages for personnel and Department of Defense programs and activities. The $717 million bill was passed in the house today.
Jayson O’Neill, deputy director of the Western Values Project, said, the proposed policy was cut during House and Senate negotiations earlier this week after loud opposition from activists and many legislative Democrats.
"People activated and said this isn’t the way we do things, so really it was a huge credit to the citizens across the west and said this isn’t the place for a poison pill rider for a special interest and ultimately that message was heard by our representatives,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill added that the threat of an endangered species listing keeps collaborative protections going for the bird across eleven western states.
“What the ESA does, it allows us to make sure we can come to the table and try to address things before it's too far gone. Because unfortunately, if a species gets to the point where it’s listed as endangered, there's a hard time for it to recover,” he said.
Some Republicans argued the species protections would make military training and activities more difficult. The Senate is expected to vote on the final draft of the NDAA next week.