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Cramer Participates in Congressional Field Hearing on Sage Grouse, Endangered Species Act

Sep 4, 2013
Press Release

BILLINGS, M.T. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer participated in a field hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources in Billings, Montana to examine the potential impacts of the Greater Sage Grouse receiving a listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Cramer outlined the serious threat to private, local and state land management posed by litigation-based regulations, and entered into the committee record written testimony submitted by Lynn Helms, Director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.

“Challenges are coming to states like North Dakota and Montana in droves from Washington. As frightening as it is to think of unelected bureaucrats setting public policy, even more frightening is public policy driven by litigation,” said Cramer. “It is good to be in a part of the country where common sense is in abundance so we can get our hands around this problem. The west has remained special not because bureaucrats have been looking over it carefully, but because the people who live here care so much for it.”

Of the 2,105 species listed by the ESA in the last 40 years, less than one percent of species in the U.S. have been recovered and removed from listing in this federal program. Meanwhile, state, local, and private entities are successfully managing efforts to protect land and species.

Between 1999 and 2003, environmental groups filed eight petitions to add an ESA listing for the Greater Sage Grouse, which makes part of its habitat in southwestern North Dakota. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has maintained a Sage Grouse management plan since 2005, and is currently developing a 2013 revision. The North Dakota Industrial Commission and the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands also participate in the plan.

Despite numerous examples of prudent environmental management by states and localities, the Obama Administration continues to move forward with regulations, executive orders, and ESA listings driven by “mega-settlements” with environmental activists groups after they launch lawsuits against the federal government for the very purpose of achieving such a response.

The latest settlement signed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 requires the agency to make a final ESA listing determination for the Greater Sage Grouse no later than September 30, 2015. A listing would have severe repercussions on domestic energy production, livestock, and outdoor recreation activities in North Dakota.

In August, Cramer and Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) requested the Committee hold a hearing in the region to bring the debate over ESA directly to the ranchers, farmers, landowners, irrigators, and energy producers who would be affected. The full letter requesting the hearing from Cramer and Daines is available here.