Democrats dispute claim that shielding birds hurts military

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are taking aim at a Republican plan to block the Obama administration from protecting the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Congressmen Adam Smith of Washington and Raul Grijalva (Gree-HAHL-va) of Arizona released letters Tuesday from Pentagon officials that they say prove shielding the bird won't impair military readiness.

GOP lawmakers have argued that protection plans for the greater sage grouse will restrict the availability of swaths of training grounds in Western states where there are large populations of the birds. A provision in the defense policy bill for 2017 would delay a decision on listing the birds under the act for 10 years.

The top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, Grijalva says the letters end speculation the birds could hamstring the armed forces.