Federal judge to rule on protecting wildflower
DENVER – A federal judge Wednesday will announce whether the government should protect a wildflower that grows only in oil shale outcroppings in northeast Utah and northwest Colorado.
U.S. District Judge Walker D. Miller heard arguments in March about whether the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should have placed the Graham’s penstemon on the endangered species list.
The agency dropped the flower from its endangered species candidate list in December 2006. It had been a candidate for protection since 1980 and the decision came as efforts were under way to tap an estimated 2 trillion to 2.5 trillion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.
The environmentalists’ lawsuit says there are only an estimated 6,000 such flowers in the world.