INHOFE CALLS LISTING OF LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKEN PURELY POLITICAL

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today stated that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) as threatened is purely political and ignores the hard work of Oklahomans to preserve and protect the bird in order to avoid such listing.

“While better than an endangered listing, the Obama Administration’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened is purely political,” said Inhofe. “Oklahoma and four other states’ conservation agencies, industry participants, and the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation made extraordinary efforts to protect the bird in order to keep it from being listed by the Administration. Their efforts included more than $21 million in upfront funding for implementation of a range-wide plan that would cover millions more acres than would be required under the Obama Administration’s listing demands. Had the five states been given more time, I believe their plan would have successfully preserved this species. Federal agencies like Fish and Wildlife Service are too concerned about appeasing their rich environmental base by engaging in ‘sue and settle’ tactics. It is unfortunate that such closed-door tactics have been rampant under the Obama Administration, filling the pockets of environmental activists and leaving devastating economic impacts for generations to come.

“My greatest concern in today’s decision is that it is easier to list a species than it is to delist it. Just look at the American Burying Beetle (ABB) in Eastern Oklahoma. The beetle has been listed as endangered since 1989, even though newly published population surveys show a population 10 times larger than the conservation goals outlined in the original ABB conservation plans. Despite this, the ABB remains an endangered species, and it is one without a General Conservation Plan, making economic development in the ABB range very difficult to undertake.  That ABB remaining listed is to the detriment of Eastern Oklahoma’s economy.”

During his tenure on the EPW Committee, Inhofe has made it a priority to avoid a listing of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), working closely with Ashe to advance public-private partnerships to conserve the species. Most recently, on March 24, Inhofe sent a letter ahead of the listing deadline to FWS Director Dan Ashe reiterating the hard work that Oklahoma and four other states together with FWS have done to successfully establish a voluntary range-wide conservation plan (FWP) and Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAAs).

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