Senate OKs resolution to keep bird off ESA

A resolution, passed on a 50-to-48 bipartisan vote May 3, would strike down the Biden administration’s listing of the lesser prairie-chicken as part of the Endangered Species Act, according to U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-KS.

Marshall said the listing was an overreach and harms states like Kansas because of the burden it places on farmers, ranchers and energy producers in rural communities.

The next step is passing the U.S. House of Representatives, Marshall said. If the House passes the companion piece it will go to President Joe Biden, Marshall said, where he acknowledged it is likely to face a veto. Marshall contends the listing is an attack on energy and agriculture as well as the small communities in rural America that depend on those sectors for their survival.

“We did pass a resolution for disapproval with Senate with the listing of the lesser prairie-chicken,” Marshall said in a conference call with media. “Farmers and ranchers love the environment. I love the environment. We’ll do what we can to protect the habitat.”

The LPC numbers have shown a general upswing in numbers in western Kansas in recent years, but the habitat needs rain and that needs to continue to be combined with voluntary practices by farmers and ranchers, he said.

Marshall said the regulations drive up costs for the oil and gas and wind energy sectors. Wind turbines need power distribution lines and additional regulations can stifle that expansion.

When energy costs increase it ripples through the entire economy and is reflected in food prices. Plus, potential regulations could limit the times when a wheat crop could be planted or ranchers might be limited to certain times to move and check cattle. Those potential restrictions are not good for agricultural producers.

Even with an expected veto, Marshall said it was important Kansans understand what is going on in Washington and how regulations impact them on a day-to-day basis. He said Congress has had an impact on bringing attention to regulations that do not work and on some issues has gotten the White House to change its approach.

The Endangered Species Act, which started in 1973, should be subject to review, he said. In his opinion, the standards applied do not always take into account what is happening at the ground level. In Kansas, he said, farmers and ranchers have applied science and technology to have healthier soil, water and air and those can be measured with significant progress achieved in the past 10 to 20 years.

In the case of the lesser prairie-chicken in western Kansas, practical grazing practices have made a difference and it shows that federal and state government can work with the farmers and ranchers to achieve success.

“Farmers and ranchers should not be penalized,” he said, adding it is not unique as lawmakers in Oklahoma and Montana express their concern over listings sage grouse and grizzly bears, respectively.

The House Committee on Natural Resources has passed U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann’s joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to strike down the listing of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act. The CRA resolution will now go to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote, and if it is enacted, the measure would prevent the listing from having any force or affect.

“Producers deserve urgent action by Congress on this resolution. The designation of the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species in places like Kansas is unacceptable, and this rule should have no force or effect until Congress is consulted,” said Mann, R-KS. “Now, it’s time for my colleagues in the House to decide whether they want to stand for big government overregulation that will put producers out of business or stand up for producers’ rights to private property and self-determination.”

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].