Press Releases

WASHINGTON - Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) recently joined six of his House and Senate colleagues to request a 60-day extension of the comment period of the proposed rules for the Gunnison sage-grouse in order to give local communities more time to participate in this complex ruling that could result in serious property use restrictions.

The letter sent to the Colorado Fish and Wildlife Service field director, Noreen Walsh, expressed concern about the impact this listing and proposed critical habitat will have on the local communities.  Along with Senator Lee, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Mark Udall (D-CO), and Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Jim Matheson (D-UT), and Scott Tipton (R-CO) signed the letter.

The proposed listing of the Gunnison Sage grouse was the result of a settlement agreement between an environmental group and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This practice, referred to as ‘sue and settle,’ is very problematic,” says Lee.  “In cases like this, an agreement is reached between Fish and Wildlife and environmental groups with very little opportunity for the communities most impacted by the decisions to have their voices heard.   By excluding local officials from these decisions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service obstruct the ability of local officials to create conservation plans for threatened species even though local officials might have a better approach to protecting the species. ”

In order to counter the abusive “sue and settle” practice that is restricting property rights, stifling democratic processes, and draining the resources of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Senator Lee has co-sponsored the ESA Settlement Reform Act.  This legislation would protect the rights of local communities to weigh in, as well as improve transparency and reduce the cost of abusive regulations on hardworking taxpayers.  It would amend the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) to give states, counties and other affected parties a say in the settlement of certain ESA “citizen suits” and would prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from being used to fund these lawsuits.