Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced Friday his intent to file a lawsuit against the Biden administration if it does not withdraw a rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) that designates the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.
The rule, which is scheduled to take effect March 27, would place burdensome restrictions on Oklahoma ranchers needing to graze livestock, as well as unnecessarily impede development of energy pipelines, oil drilling, wind farms, and roads.
“This is yet another example of federal overreach by the Biden administration,” Drummond said. “Environmental activists wielding the authority of the federal government can have disastrous consequences for farmers, ranchers and energy producers. As a fifth-generation cattle rancher, I am committed to protecting our way of life, which feeds our state and nation with minimal environmental impact.”
In the Feb. 2 letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and USFW Director Martha Williams, Drummond noted that the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has worked closely with federal agencies, industry leaders, private landowners, conservation groups and other stakeholders to protect the lesser prairie chicken and its habitat.
The letter provides a 60-day notice of the intent to file litigation for failing to follow Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act with regard to the Final Rule the USFW issued Nov. 25, 2022.
Oklahoma is part of the “Northern Distinct Population Segment” where the lesser prairie chicken is to be listed as a threatened species, while birds in the “Southern Distinct Population Segment” will be listed as endangered.
“This rule presents an existential threat for cattle grazing, energy production, and other vital aspects of Western Oklahoma’s economy,” Drummond said.
“I am calling on all affected stakeholders to join me in fighting this battle. While I have been encouraged by many conversations and actions with various groups, I am disappointed that the Oklahoma Farm Bureau has not contacted my office or me personally on this critical matter. If this organization truly represents the interests of rural Oklahomans who will be affected by this detrimental rule, then I expect to see leadership, not fence-sitting.”
Drummond encouraged all affected individuals and organizations to reach out to the Office of Attorney General in an effort to give the State the best chance to prevail.
“We must come together with one voice as Oklahomans to stand against a hostile and overreaching federal government,” Drummond said. “It is my duty and my honor to lead this fight.”
Source: press release