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Oklahoma oil industry groups join federal lawsuit over lesser prairie chicken listing

State and federal groups representing the oil and natural gas industry have filed a lawsuit over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ decision to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened.
By Jay F. Marks, Business Writer Published: June 11, 2014

The oil and natural gas industry is pushing back against the federal government’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Oklahoma’s two largest industry groups joined two of the nation’s largest oil and gas trade associations Friday in suing the U.S Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, arguing the agency did not consider the best available science in deciding to protect the bird, which is a species of grouse.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, does not challenge the agency’s decision to endorse extensive voluntary conservation efforts that have been developed by the industry and states that already are working to protect the lesser prairie chicken, officials said.

It was filed by the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, Independent Petroleum Association of America, Western Energy Alliance and International Association of Geophysical Contractors.

Officials said the oil and gas industry has invested in conservation efforts, while voluntarily working with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the lesser prairie chicken continues to thrive.

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