Pfluger Leads Letter Urging the Biden Administration to Reverse Lesser Prairie Chicken Designation

I recently led a letter opposing the Biden Administration’s proposal to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a move that will harm the oil & gas industry and production agriculture, the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers, and the communities these industries support.

The letter was cosigned by Representative Bruce Westerman, Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Committee, Representative Yvette Herrell, Representative Dan Newhouse, Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, and Representatives Kevin Brady, Doug Lamborn, Lauren Boebert, Scott Perry, Markwayne Mullin, Tracey Mann, Randy Weber, Stephanie Bice, Ronny Jackson, Louie Gohmert, Cliff Bentz, and Michael Cloud.  

In the letter, we highlight that voluntary public-private conservation partnerships have been effective in fostering a stable LPC population, more than doubling the population since 2013.

The letter also underscores: Agriculture and energy production are the foundation and lifeblood of our states. The oil and gas industry contributed $2.8 billion to New Mexico in fiscal year 2020 which equates to 33.5 % of the state’s budget. This funding supports schools, teachers, hospitals, and other public services that New Mexicans rely on. The Permian Basin accounts for more than 35% of total U.S. crude oil production and more than 15% of total U.S. natural gas production. This proposed action will result in significant job losses while diminishing American energy security, forcing us to rely on other countries who do not have our best interests in mind and have less stringent environmental standards. Similarly, U.S. agriculture contributes $7 trillion to the U.S. economy and supports 40 million jobs nationwide.

Instead of continuing to successfully work with our local communities and landowners, the Biden Administration has chosen a path that will only lead to more harmful restrictions stemming from a federal overreach. Voluntary public-private conservation partnerships for the Lesser Prairie Chicken’s habitat are working as recent surveys indicate that the Lesser Prairie Chicken population has more than doubled since 2013. I am proud to lead this letter to urge the Biden Administration to not list the Lesser Prairie Chicken, which will harm our rural economies and threaten the livelihoods of ag and energy producers.

“Every American wants to see our nation’s wildlife not just survive, but thrive for generations. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act is premature, as state and local conservation efforts are already working,” said House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman. “In fact, the bird’s population has more than doubled since 2013. Additionally, the bird relies heavily on precipitation, and the current drought conditions should not be disingenuously used to punish people in rural America for something that is out of their control. We should not put rural economies at risk when they are doing everything right to protect and conserve species. I urge Secretary Haaland to not list the bird at this time and instead work closely with USDA, local communities, and stakeholders to continue the positive strides towards recovery that are already being made.”

“The proposed listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken has the potential to cause economic harm to my constituents and be detrimental to ongoing conservation efforts,” said Rep. Yvette Herrell. “Farmers, ranchers, and energy producers have all joined efforts to conserve the species, to great effect. In fact, since 2013, the population of the Lesser Prairie Chicken has more than doubled. The cost of listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken far outweighs the benefits and I urge the Fish and Wildlife Service not to move forward with a final listing.”  

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse said, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act ignores the region’s successful, voluntary conservation efforts. For years, conservationists – including farmers and ranchers in the region – have been implementing best practices to ensure recovery of the prairie-chicken, and this step by the Biden Administration throws years of hard work and progress out the window. Imposing greater restrictions on states and local communities will not lead to better outcomes for the lesser prairie-chicken, but it will burden the conservation partners we rely on. I am thankful for Rep. Pfluger’s leadership on this important issue to the West.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.


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