Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Environmentalists Threaten Energy Development

Using the Endangered Species List to block development on millions of acres.

Mar. 12, 2014
Energy and the sage grouse

Unhappy with their inability to halt the nation’s growing oil and gas industry, ecofascists are pushing the Department of the Interior to add a record 757 new species to the Endangered Species Act in an attempt to close off 50 to 100 million acres to any kind of economic development. One bird for which they seek “protection” is the sage grouse, which is found in 11 western states, raising the question that if it lives in such a wide swath of territory, just how endangered can it be?

That is a question Interior refuses to answer. Like many of its studies over the years that have led to numerous additions to the ESA list, the department won’t divulge the method by which it arrives at its decisions to define animals as endangered. A recent report put together by 13 House members and led by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings details numerous discrepancies in ESA research, including the use of selective data, biased sampling, inaccurate mapping and subjective interpretation of results.

The shoddy research stands unchallenged because environmental groups use a “sue and settle” strategy that basically floods the government with lawsuits that are more easily settled out of court than challenged on the merits. Two groups, Wildlife Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity, have been involved in more than 1,000 such lawsuits since 1990. Their aim is nothing short of ending fossil-fuel production in the United States. Their tactics have become so brazen that even Democrats like Senator Harry Reid and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper have complained that adding the sage grouse to the ESA list will have a massively negative economic impact on their respective states. Whether they will do anything about it is another story.

According to the Department of the Interior, the sage grouse and the prairie chicken, another potential addition to the list of endangered species, have habitats near the Bakken Shale fields of North Dakota and the Permian Basin in Texas, respectively. If the department’s actions go unchallenged, these huge sources of fossil fuels could be essentially cut off from development. If the “science” of the environmentalists is as solid as they claim, then they should be called upon to defend their findings in an open forum. Let the facts speak for themselves, if they can.

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