Defense Department walks back opposition to sage grouse amendment

Defense Department walks back opposition to sage grouse amendment
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The Department of Defense is clarifying its stance on a controversial amendment in the House National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would keep a species of bird from being listed as endangered in the next ten years.

In a statement Thursday the DOD walked back previous recommendations that leaked Wednesday that appeared to show the agency was against the amendment first proposed by Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopGOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler MORE (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

"The Administration, the Defense Department, and the Interior Department support the provision in question and believe that it could help the Department avoid any negative readiness impacts on military facilities should the species be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act," Pete Giambastiani, principal deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for legislative affairs said in a statement.

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The response is turn around from the leaked recommendations circulated Wednesday between the Defense Department and House committees.

In those recommendations, the agency wrote that it objects to the addition and "urges its exclusion."

"The Department objects to the House provision and urges its exclusion, because it is not necessary to protect military testing and training and is therefore not appropriate for inclusion in the NDAA," the statement read. 

"Inclusion of the provision misleadingly implies that the DOD has had or may have difficulty managing for these species without degrading military testing and training. That is simply not the case."

The species of bird, called the sage grouse, has long been a point of contention between landowners and conservationists who have pushed for it to be listed on the Endangered Species Act.