May 11, 2016
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today praised the decision by the Obama administration to abandon its effort to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by dropping its appeal of a Texas federal court’s ruling that vacated the listing.
“The Obama administration’s decision not to appeal a district court ruling, throwing out the listing of the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species, is welcome and different news from this administration," Inhofe said. “The court’s decision to vacate the listing is a win for Oklahoma and the four other state’s conservation agencies and our local and industry partners who have committed funding and other resources to implement a conservation plan without the federal government’s interference. However, even with this win, I will be looking to put safeguards in place to block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from revisiting the issue until the states’ plan has time to develop and show its success.”
During Inhofe’s tenure on the EPW Committee, Inhofe worked to avoid a listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), working closely with FWS Director Dan Ashe to advance public-private partnerships to conserve the species. On March 24, 2014, Inhofe sent a letter to Ashe ahead of the listing deadline 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). On March 27, 2014, the LPC was listed as “threatened,” and while better than an endangered listing, Inhofe called the decision “purely political” in nature. That summer, Inhofe introduced the Lesser Prairie Chicken Voluntary Recovery Act, S.2677, which would remove the LPC from the list of threatened species under ESA for a period of five years to allow the state-driven conservation plans to take affect.
In the 114th Congress, Inhofe worked with Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) to include language in the House National Defense Authorization Act to effectively remove the LPC from being listed.