Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) brandishes a firearm at a gun store in Rifle, Colorado on April 24, 2018.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) brandishes a firearm at a gun store in Rifle, Colorado on April 24, 2018. (Photo: Emily Kask/AFP via Getty Images)

Why Does Lauren Boebert Want to Annihilate the Sage-Grouse? Follow the Money

The GOP lawmaker called the threatened species a "mediocre bird," but one watchdog group says her husband's ties to a major oil and gas firm better explain it.

Earlier this week, far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert went on a diatribe against Greater sage-grouse conservation efforts but neglected to mention that her husband raked in nearly $1 million over a two-year period from a fossil fuel corporation that stands to lose out if the Biden administration strengthens federal protection of the threatened bird species' sagebrush habitat.

"Her behavior is the epitome of corruption."

"The Biden regime's sage-grouse landgrab policies are not about saving a mediocre bird that is legally hunted in seven states," Boebert (R-Colo.) said in a statement. "Rather, they are about locking up tens of millions of acres of land in the West, closing off mineral and energy development, expanding the federal government's power over rural Colorado, and destroying American jobs."

What went unsaid is that Jayson Boebert works as a consultant for Terra Energy Partners. The oil and gas firm paid him $460,601 in 2019 and $478,386 in 2020--information that Lauren Boebert failed to disclose during her congressional campaign and only reported in financial disclosure forms filed last August.

A new analsysis released Friday by government watchdog Accountable.US shows that Terra Energy has "extensive" lease holdings in Garfield and Rio Blanco Counties in northwest Colorado, precisely where the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering bolstered sage-grouse protections.

"Lauren Boebert would rather use her official position in Congress to go to bat for an energy company that has paid her husband nearly $1 million over the past two years, than to protect Colorado's iconic public lands and habitats for future generations to enjoy with their families," Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said Friday in a statement. "Her behavior is the epitome of corruption."

According to Accountable.US, Terra Energy has 338 leases from the BLM in Garfield and Rio Blanco Counties, with 5,483 active wells in the former and 388 in the latter.

Approximately 120 of Terra Energy's leases and wells in northwest Colorado "are located in between the towns of Parachute, Rangley, and Meeker," which are home not only to sage-grouse ecosystems but also tens of thousands of acres of priority conservation areas, the watchdog noted. "More protections for sage-grouse in northwest Colorado could hurt Terra's bottom line."

Rep. Boebert implied in her statement that new federal protections are a done deal, saying: "By attempting to unilaterally ram through sage-grouse land landgrab (sic) policies, the Biden regime has picked up where the Obama regime left off and shut out the voices of local communities impacted by its one-size-fits-all, draconian overreach."

In fact, the BLM is still in the analysis and document preparation phase of amending its sage-grouse land use plans.

According to the agency:

In order to protect the long-term health of Greater sage-grouse populations, consider new science, and comply with court direction, the BLM is beginning to consider updates to the range-wide management plans for sagebrush habitat adopted in 2015 and amended in 2019. More than 70 resource management plans currently guide habitat conservation and restoration on 67 million acres of Greater sage-grouse habitat the bureau manages in 10 Western states.

In considering amendments to the 2015 and 2019 management plans, the BLM will examine new scientific information, including the effects of stressors like climate change, on Greater sage-grouse, to assess what management actions may best support habitat conservation and restoration on public lands to benefit sage-grouse, as well as the people who rely on sagebrush lands to support their livelihoods and traditions.

Earlier this week, a coalition of environmental groups called on the BLM "to use the best available science to conserve sagebrush habitat in the American West to stabilize and increase Greater sage-grouse populations."

The groups continued:

Sage-grouse are an indicator species, whose health reflects the overall condition of the sagebrush steppe. A functioning sagebrush country provides clean drinking water for Western communities, sequesters carbon, reduces wildfire intervals, and is home to more than 350 species of plants and wildlife of conservation concern.

Sage-grouse populations and sagebrush habitat have been in decline for more than five decades. A 2021 report by the U.S. Geological Survey found that sage-grouse populations have declined across the West by more than 80% since 1965, including a 37% decline since 2002. This report came on the heels of another report released by USGS highlighting the loss and degradation of lands in the sagebrush ecosystem. This new information makes review of federal land management plans imperative.

The coalition expects the BLM to present draft habitat management plans for public comment in late 2022.

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