GOP grouse about bird they falsely claim can cripple world’s largest military
The US House Armed Services Committee voted 35-27 early Thursday to reject an amendment by Democratic Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, which would have overturned a provision in the 2017 Defense Authorization Bill that prevents the Interior Secretary’s classification of sage-grouse as an endangered species until 2025.
Much like the male sage-grouse who puff up his chest and fan out his starburst tails, Republican men in Congress created a big flap by claiming the bird’s habitat is used for military training and labeled efforts to protect it as “environmental extremism”.
However, letters released by the Pentagon on Tuesday dismissed those concerns.
The Pentagon letters detail land use plans for the birds habitat that will not affect military training, operation, or readiness to any significant degree.
"These letters put to bed once and for all the silly speculation that a few birds could hamstring the greatest fighting force in the history of the world," Rep Raul Grijalva, top Democrat from the Natural Resources Committee, said.
Republicans on the committee were reportedly grousing about those letters.
"Vote no like the Army told you to last year," Rep Mo Brooks from Alabama said, according to The Hill.
The real reason for choosing man over nature, says Rep Tsongas, is because their 165 million acre habitat across several Rocky Mountain and western states is sought after for oil and agriculture.
“Arguments to halt this progress are not actually about military readiness, but instead are an attempt to interfere with management of our nation's public lands and undermine the Endangered Species Act," said Rep Tsongas.
The US was once home to millions of sage-grouse, but human development has seen their numbers dwindle to between 200,000 and 500,000 with a 56 percent decline between 2007 and 2013.
Despite being classified as endangered, new Interior department rules that require protecting its habitat with fences proved problematic for Big Oil and Ag interests looking to exploit the land.
The Defense Bill provision delays the endangered classification until September 20, 2025.