Nate Rott

A task force is recommending changes that could loosen protections for the greater sage grouse, a Western bird species renowned for its elaborate mating dance.

The report comes out of a review by the Trump administration of a massive Obama-era conservation plan for the bird which is imperiled by loss of habitat.

The administration says the revisions are aimed at giving states more flexibility. But critics argue that the changes favor mining and petroleum companies and could hurt the bird's long-term prospects.

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Two years ago, near the end of California's devastating drought, Tom Moore stood on the banks of the depleted Kern River in Southern California and looked out at the slow-moving waters dejectedly.

"We call that a creek," he said of the mighty Kern.

Moore is the owner of Sierra South, a whitewater recreation company in Kernville, Calif. And with the drought, there wasn't much in the way of whitewater.

Oh, how things change.

Ernest Littlebird put his grill out on the side of Route 39 in Lame Deer, Mont., under the shade of a tree and started grilling hamburgers.

"Come get a dollar burger," he says. "Good meal, you know, something to put in the belly at least."

Littlebird is an entrepreneur. This is his second year selling dollar hamburgers out of his minivan when he couldn't find other work. Jobs are scarce here on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and so is money.

But Littlebird thinks they don't have to be.

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Colstrip, Mont., is about 750 miles away from Seattle, as the crow flies. Politically, the two places may be even further apart. And yet, they're connected.

If you're turning the lights on in the Pacific Northwest, some of that electricity may be coming from Colstrip. And if you're in Colstrip, wondering how long your own lights will stay on, you're likely looking west.

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A deadline is fast approaching for Republican lawmakers who want to undo an Obama-era regulation that aims to limit the emissions of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — from energy production sites on public lands.

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