An Obama administration ruling that protects a Southwestern prairie bird has stopped oil drilling in Kansas, a Fox News report said.
“The decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that was announced in late March and took effect May 1 includes a provision that should allow federal officials and landowners in the five impacted states — Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas — to manage conservation efforts,” the report said.
Oil producers say they didn’t have enough time to sort out the new regulations and how to avoid potential criminal and civil penalties.
“Not complying brings very stiff penalties, so we’ve basically just pulled out of western Kansas,” Mike Vess, owner of Wichita-based Vess Oil Corp., told Fox News. “The reaction was ‘OK, we’re just not going to drill.’”
The decision to enact the new federal regulations came despite warnings that the economic impact would be huge and thousands of jobs would be lost.
“It’s certainly a job-killer in my district,” Kansas GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp told Fox News Wednesday. “You have to wonder if it’s by design when you have a president who has declared a war on coal.”
Huelskamp said he’s already taken a first step toward defunding at least part of a pending Interior Department appropriations bill.
The Southwestern prairie bird is a grouse known for its colorful neck plume and stout build, Fox News said.
“Last year, the population across the five states declined to fewer than 18,000 birds — nearly 50 percent lower than 2012 population estimates.”
Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback called the federal decision a government “overreach” and said his state rejects the federal government’s authority to regulate the bird in Kansas.
Oklahoma’s attorney general recently filed a lawsuit over the administration’s decision to settle a lawsuit with an environmental group over the listing status of the lesser prairie chicken and other species, Fox News said.