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

Male Greater Sage Grouse perform their mating ritual on a lake in 2013 near Walden, Colo. 

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP)  — 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.

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.

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