Sen. Jerry Moran often talks about his “common sense” solutions, but they aren’t always an easy sell in Congress. On Wednesday, the Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Moran that would have removed the lesser prairie chicken from the federal government’s threatened species list.
The vote on Moran’s amendment was 54-44, short of the 60 votes necessary to add it to a bill intended to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, according to the Associated Press.
The lesser prairie chicken needs to be preserved. It was designated as threatened last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, one step beneath endangered status under the Endangered Species Act. That means federal officials think the bird soon will be in danger of extinction. In 2013, the lesser prairie chicken’s population hit a record low of 17,616, about half of what it was in 2012, the wildlife service said.
Even so, the threatened species designation may be unwarranted. Moran said Wednesday that listing the lesser prairie chicken as threatened jeopardizes the agriculture and energy industries in Kansas and four other states where the bird lives.
“There are ways to conserve the species without hindering economic development in rural communities, and I will continue to push for this straightforward, simple solution,” Moran said. “A number of industries — farming, ranching, oil and gas development, transportation and wind energy — continue to feel the effects as the federal government attempts to dictate how individuals manage their land and resources.”
Moran will probably try to add the amendment again later this year. As long as he is also pushing for a solution to preserving the lesser prairie chicken, his common sense ideas are worth considering.