US pushes changes to Western land plans that judge blocked

(Jeannie Stafford / CC BY 2.0 )
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - U.S. Interior Department officials are seeking to bolster their case for easing restrictions on energy development, mining and grazing in seven Western states.

A federal judge in Idaho blocked the Trump administration plans last year over concerns that they could harm greater sage grouse, a ground-dwelling bird.

Assistant Interior Secretary Casey Hammond says a new set of environmental studies published Friday clarifies the steps the government will take to conserve sage grouse habitat.

The Interior Department opened a 45-day public comment period on the studies that cover millions of acres of public lands in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and California.

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