For months the federal government had anxiously debated whether to invoke the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect the greater sage grouse. They were supposed to decide on September 30 in 2015. The Interior Department elected to do something that government rarely does: make a decision early.
In “Did the Fish and Wildlife Service Just Doom This Bird to Extinction?,” Nation contributor Jimmy Tobias explains that the grouse fight is about more than a bird: it’s about fossil fuel and the warped logic of extraction at all costs.
If the greater sage grouse had won endangered species status, large swaths of the West could be closed to oil and gas extraction. This afternoon, the government announced that the grouse does not warrant listing — a dream verdict for the oil and gas industry, developers and ranchers — and part of a right-wing push to undermine the Endangered Species Act itself.
Read on to learn about the fight, and why today’s decision matters for the ecological well-being of the American West.