House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today released the following statement after receiving a partial response from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe to his February 7th request for an extended public comment period for Lesser Prairie Chicken designation under the Endangered Species Act and to approve state and local plans to protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken:
"Considering the sweeping impact that listing the prairie chicken would have on agricultural and energy-producing areas in five states, it only makes sense that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would allow affected communities more time for public input before final decisions are made. What is concerning, however, is that Service's response today does nothing to address the underlying and continual problem of closed-door deals with litigious environmental groups that arbitrarily set deadlines for ESA-listings. These secretive settlements don't allow full consideration of sound science and data, analyses of the economic impacts or whether a listing of this kind is even warranted to begin with."