Montana Public Radio

Kathleen Sgamma

Oil well.
(PD)

Federal courts have delivered a string of rebukes to the Trump administration over what they found were failures to protect the environment and address climate change as it promotes fossil fuel interests and the extraction of natural resources from public lands.

Sage grouse.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region (PD)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has dealt another blow to the Trump administration's efforts to increase domestic oil and gas output from public lands, saying officials failed to protect habitat for a declining bird species when it issued energy leases on hundreds of square miles.

Sage grouse.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region (PD)

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

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.

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story Kathleen Sgamma was quoted as saying reducing royalty rates increases revenue for industry and the federal government.  Her point was in fact that reducing regulatory barriers achieves this goal.

On Wednesday, an Interior Department advisory panel will propose changing how the government receives royalties from coal dug up on federal lands. But some critics are calling foul as panel members either come from the energy industry or energy-producing states.