By Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter
A majority of Western voters from states with federal conservation plans for the greater sage grouse object to using an annual defense bill to stymie the effort, according to a survey released last week by a nonpartisan veterans group.
Sixty-three percent of voters in Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington support federal sage grouse conservation plans in their states, and 69 percent say the annual defense authorization bill is an inappropriate means of stopping implementation.
“A strong majority of Westerners — including military men and women, veterans, and their families — have once again made it clear that they do not want to see years of Western stakeholders’ hard work derailed,” said Garett Reppenhagen, Rocky Mountain director of the Vet Voice Foundation, which sponsored the poll. “Congress needs to respect our men and women in uniform and stop insulting the nation’s intelligence by pretending that sage-grouse conservation is a threat to our security.”
This is the second year House Republicans have sought to use the defense authorization act to weaken sage grouse conservation. Last year, lawmakers attempted to delay an endangered species designation for the bird by 10 years. [Rep. Cynthia Lummis backed that effort as chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus.] That language is in the House version of the bill again, along with another provision allowing states to override federal conservation plans.
The Senate version of the bill being debated on the floor this week does not contain a provision on the sage grouse.
Opposition to grouse provisions crosses party lines and military experience, according to the poll of 500 registered voters with a margin of error of 4.4 points. The poll was conducted by Harper Polling for the Vet Voice Foundation.
Seventy percent of those without a military connection and 66 percent of voters who either served or are related to someone who did oppose the legislative tactic. Sixty-one percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents also object to the maneuver.
Vet Voice has strongly opposed the sage grouse language in the defense bill. Last week, it launched an advertising campaign against the policy rider (Greenwire, May 24).
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— Originally published by Environment & Energy Daily. Contact E&E publishing for permission to republish.