The plan to keep regulation of the region’s agriculture, oil and natural gas and power industries out of the control of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking flight.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a draft rule in the federal Register on Wednesday that is based on a conservation plan created by a coalition of five states to protect and expand the habitat the lesser prairie chicken needs to increase its population.
“Comments will be accepted until Jan. 10,” said Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Lesli Gray.
The rule shields producers enrolled in the plan and operating in compliance with it from punishment for the accidental death or disturbance of the bird the EPA has targeted for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“If we can pull this off, I can guarantee it will be an unprecedented attempt to avoid listing this bird,” said Matt Wagner, deputy director of the wildlife division of Texas Parks and Wildlife. “There’s a lot of science and economics that make sense.”
A final ruling on the listing is due in March.
Source: Lubbock Online