Utah officials: Sage grouse decision masks burdensome plan

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah officials say the federal government is creating a smoke screen for suffocating protection plans with its Tuesday announcement that it won’t list the greater sage grouse as a threatened or endangered species.

U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, says it’s a step in the right direction not to list the ground-dwelling bird but he worries that the federal government’s plan to protect the bird with oil and gas restrictions and other measures will be just as onerous as a listing.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah called Tuesday’s announcement a “cynical ploy” and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert says the federal protection plans are unnecessarily restrictive.

The Obama administration and some environmental groups say the plan strikes a balance between conservation and development.

Other conservation groups criticized the plan, saying it allows too many loopholes for development.

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