Sage grouse court order trims energy lease auction in Nevada

Idaho officials OK implementation of sage grouse
Posted at 9:38 AM, Nov 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-11 11:38:14-05

RENO, Nevada — Federal land managers have withdrawn more than 500 square miles (1,295 sq. kilometers) of public land from a swath of eastern Nevada where oil and gas drilling leases go to auction this week after a judge blocked the Trump administration's attempt to ease protection of sage grouse habitat.

The acreage pulled from Tuesday's scheduled sale covers more than half the lease area the Bureau of Land Management originally planned to auction. It roughly corresponds to priority habitat designated in a 2015 federal sage-grouse plan completed under President Barack Obama for Nevada and northeastern California.

The Trump land-use plans finalized in March had removed the most protective habitat designations across millions of acres. A federal judge temporarily blocked the rules last month because they could allow activity likely to harm the struggling bird species in seven Western states.