Critics seek to block easing of oil and gas rules in West

EnergyAssociated Press

Image 1 of 2

FILE - In this April 20, 2013, file photo, male Greater Sage Grouse perform their mating ritual on a lake near Walden, Colo. The Trump administration is finalizing plans to ease restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling and other industry activities that are meant to protect an imperiled bird species that ranges across the American West. U.S. Bureau of Land Management Acting Director Brian Steed told The Associated Press the changes still protect greater sage grouse while addressing concerns that policies under former President Barack Obama were too restrictive. A formal announcement is expected Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Conservation groups are asking a federal judge to block the Trump administration from easing restrictions on energy companies that were meant to protect a struggling Western bird species.

Continue Reading Below

Attorneys for Western Watersheds Project, Prairie Hills Audubon Society and two other groups made the request Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Boise, Idaho.

At issue are federal land use plans for greater sage grouse first enacted in 2015 under President Barack Obama.

The Interior Department revised those plans this month as part of President Donald Trump's efforts to promote oil and gas drilling and other activities.

The ground-dwelling sage grouse's territory includes portions of 11 Western states.

The same groups behind Wednesday's court filing had sued in 2016 over the Obama-era plans, claiming they did not do enough.