For years, Lesser Prairie Chickens have been on the front-line of a world changing for the worse. Their native habitat in the grasslands of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas has been imperiled by drought associated with climate change as well as human encroachment -- causing their population to drop by half just this year alone.
Environmental groups have filed suits urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the declining birds as an endangered species, but the proposal is being met with some powerful, corporate opposition.
Lesser prairie chicken habitat, it turns out, is centered upon land that Chevron would like to drill on -- and such Federal protection would prevent them from accessing it. In response, the energy company secretly paid $25,000 to sponsor a panel with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group made up of conservative lawmakers that craft corporate-friendly policy, to keep threatened wildlife from hampering their business.
An ALEC planning document, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, indicates the panel will discuss how Endangered Species listings "often negatively impacts and stifles energy development of all kinds." Chevron was mentioned as a donor.