Nevada Democratic Sen. critical of grouse plan

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada is sharply criticizing the Trump administration’s new move to ease land-use restrictions that were in place to protect the greater sage grouse across the West.

The Interior Department released documents Thursday that outline plans to open more public lands to oil and gas leasing and allow waivers for drilling to encroach into the habitat of the imperiled bird.

Cortez Masto says the administration has decided to put the interests of the oil and gas industry ahead of the best interests of Nevadans.

The Democrat says the new plan undermines the delicate balance Western states had struck to ensure protection of the grouse and keep it off the U.S. list of threatened species while strengthening economic development across the West.

Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval says he’s glad the administration incorporated some of the state’s input.