BILLINGS — Environmental groups are suing the Trump administration for selling oil and gas leases on huge swaths of Western U.S. public lands while allegedly ignoring policies meant to protect an imperiled bird.
The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court seeks to reverse lease sales across 475 square miles (1,230 square kilometers) in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.
Western Watersheds Project and Center for Biological Diversity also want to block upcoming sales covering 1,800 square miles (4,662 square kilometers) in those four states plus Idaho.
Under former President Barack Obama, the Interior Department in 2015 adopted plans to protect greater sage grouse after the ground-dwelling bird lost much of its habitat due to energy development and other causes.
Trump’s Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has placed a greater priority on energy development.