Judge Strikes Down US Energy Leasing Rules in Bird Habitat
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has dealt a setback to the Trump administration’s efforts to increase domestic oil and gas exploration.
Judge Brian Morris said administration officials failed to protect habitat for a declining bird species when it issued leases on hundreds of thousands of acres.
The case involves greater sage grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that’s seen its numbers drop dramatically in recent decades.
In his ruling late Friday, Morris struck down administration policies that have allowed more drilling in sage grouse habitat.
The judge also canceled leases on more than 300,000 acres in Montana and Wyoming and required officials to return the sales proceeds to companies.
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