US to ease oil drilling controls protecting imperiled bird

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration moved forward Thursday with plans to ease restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling, mining and other activities that were put in place to protect an imperiled bird species across millions of acres in the American West.

Land management documents released by the U.S. Interior Department show the administration intends to open more public lands to leasing and allow waivers for drilling to encroach into the habitat of greater sage grouse.

Critics warned the changes could wipe out grouse colonies as drilling disrupts breeding grounds. Federal officials under President Barack Obama in 2015 had adopted a sweeping set of land use restrictions intended to stop the birds’ decline.

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