greater sage grouse, found in northwest Colorado
The issue stems from federal land use plans aimed at preserving the bird’s habitat. The Western Energy Alliance and North Dakota Petroleum Council have asked a federal judge to block plans that limit drilling across Colorado and six other western states.
“Federal plans unnecessarily constrain economic growth while not getting to the heart of what it actually successful for conserving sage grouse," said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of the alliance.
Sgamma says they’re not needed because state and local policies to protect the bird have been effective. Those plans played a key role in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s decision last fall to keep the sage grouse off the endangered species list.
Some environmental groups say there are too many loopholes in new rules on oil and gas drilling, grazing and other activities blamed for the bird's long-term decline.