BOISE, Idaho — Two states are seeking to intervene on the side of the federal government after four conservation groups asked a judge to immediately halt drilling, mining and other activities to protect habitat for a ground-dwelling bird in seven Western states. Idaho and Utah filed documents in U.S. District Court late last week seeking to defend a plan put forward by President Donald Trump in mid-March. The conservation groups in a supplemental lawsuit filed in late March against the Interior Department, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service say the plan weakens an earlier version put forward by the Barack Obama administration in 2015. The groups also sued in 2016 contending the Obama plan didn’t do enough to protect sage grouse — a chicken-sized bird that relies on sagebrush. The groups say the plan put forward by Trump weakens protections further. Last week, they asked a judge to block the Trump administration plan altogether in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California and Oregon. Idaho officials have long argued that the plan the state put forward in 2015 was significantly altered at the last minute by the Obama administration, which added new protections to key sage grouse… Read full this story
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