Sage Grouse Recommendation Follows Data Quality Challenge
by Guest Blogger, 12/13/2004
A data quality challenge recently filed by an industry group may have influenced government officials’ recommendation that the greater sage grouse not be listed as an endangered species. The Partnership for the West is a coalition of organizations, which support a largely anti-environment agenda and receive support from corporations like Dow Chemical. The request for correction under the Data Quality Act (DQA), filed Sept. 23, challenged the quality of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) 90-day Finding for Petitions to List the Greater Sage-grouse as Threatened or Endangered and a conservation assessment. The group asserts that the documents “overstate threats to the species and understate the exhaustive conservation efforts currently underway by federal agencies, eleven Western States, local working groups, private landowners and environmental groups.” The petition also states that listing the greater sage grouse as endangered would actually put the species at greater risk because it would undermine current conservation efforts. The data quality petition is just one of many tools the Partnership for the West has employed to derail the listing of the grouse as an endangered species. The group also wrote letters to western governors asking them to oppose any listing of the species. The western governors group later recommended the species not be listed. The DQA has primarily been used as a tool for industry to dilute, derail, and delay regulation by challenging the reliability and accuracy of information. The protection of endangered species has recently emerged as a major target for such data quality challenges. The U.S. Air Force may have joined the industry in misuse of the DQA when it submitted a petition that triggered the cancellation of listing slickspot peppergrass as an endangered species. In a similar sequence of events, after the Partnership for the West’s DQA challenge of government documents on the greater sage grouse, FWS biologists recommended the species not be listed as endangered, pointing to a number of assessments that say the species is not facing extinction. For more information about the recommendation, see a related article in this issue.