Tuesday, February 12, 2013

N.M. House opposes 'threatened' listing for lesser prairie chicken

Opponents of federal protection for a rare bird won a moral victory Tuesday in the New Mexico House of Representatives. House members voted 39-28 for a memorial asking that local officials support efforts to protect the lesser prairie chicken but oppose it being listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. State Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, sponsored the memorial, which expresses a sentiment but has no force of law. She said jobs would be lost in southeastern New Mexico and the state's overall economy would be damaged if the prairie chicken received federal protection. Invoking the Endangered Species Act would stop voluntary efforts by private landowners to coexist with the bird, Ezzell said. For instance, she said, oil companies in select areas stop drilling during prairie chicken mating season. Numerous Democrats tried to derail or defeat Ezzell's memorial. Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, offered an amendment to rewrite her memorial to gut its opposition to the Endangered Species Act. His proposal was killed by one vote...more

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