U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, today made the following statement regarding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) decision to list the Gunnison sage grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In addition to the threatened listing, the FWS designated 1.4 million acres of land in Colorado and Utah as critical habitat for the sage grouse. The listing will likely jeopardize energy production, as well as impede farming and ranching operations on that land.

"Rather than taking into account all the work done at the state and local level to protect the Gunnison sage grouse, the Obama Administration continues its assault on energy development and private property rights by abusing and expanding the reach of the Endangered Species Act," Vitter said. "This listing, which comes as part of the mega-settlement between the FWS and far-left environmental groups, proves what we've been saying for years - that the Administration is more interested in using the ESA to take control of private property and shut down oil and gas production than it is in protecting species."

Vitter has been raising concerns about the Administration's abuse of the ESA for several years, including by questioning the FWS about the settlement agreement that ultimately led to today's decision. Most recently in October, Vitter sent a letter to the Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce requesting that the FWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service withdraw two proposed rulemakings and a draft policy on critical habitat designations under the ESA. Also signing the letter were the top Republicans of the Senate Committees and Subcommittees with jurisdiction over the ESA. Click here to read more. Vitter has also raised serious concerns with the collusion between wealthy foundations and donors based in New York, Washington D.C., and California that are largely funding the environmental movement and coordinating "sue and settle" agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.