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Inhofe, Lucas, Fallin Not Pleased With Prairie Chicken Move

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Oklahoma politicians have been quick to respond to news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened.

The Obama administration announced Thursday it is placing the lesser prairie chicken on a list of threatened species. The move could affect oil and gas drilling, wind farms and other activities in Oklahoma and four other central and southwestern states.

“We need to know what the rules are, and what we’re going to meet, or whether we’re doing an okay job,” Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and the Environment Michael Teague told state Capitol reporters Wednesday. “There’s tremendous support right now behind the Range Wide Plan, and what folks have already done.”

Gov. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) says she sees the listing as an opportunity for the state, even though she had also asked for the animal to not be listed as threatened.

“The potential impact of this listing, without the Range Wide Plan, could have resulted in damaging hits to our state’s economy, particularly our energy and agriculture industries,” Fallin said in a statement.
“With a large amount of conservation already taking place, my administration will take all steps to continue to implement this plan and work with the Service to de-list this species as soon as possible.”

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla. 3), who chairs the powerful House Agriculture Committee, said he was disappointed in the decision.

"I believe the conservation efforts seen in the five-range states were more than sufficient to warrant a non-listing of the LPC,” Lucas said in a statement. “While I understand the importance of conserving the species, this means Oklahoma farmers, ranchers and energy producers will have to abide to an additional layer of burdensome regulations.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) says the decision is purely political and ignores the work Oklahomans have already done to preserve and protect the bird.


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