Developers, farmers, oil and gas companies, electric utilities and others may need to take steps soon to avoid harming an endangered bumblebee but say they are not sure how to go about it.
Those worries have led industry associations to ask Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to delay protections of the rusty patched bumblebee to next year to allow time for sorting out the basic details of how to find and avoid the insect.
Something as basic as vegetation control along the side of a farm field or setting the route of a natural gas pipeline or an electric transmission line could violate the Endangered Species Act by unintentionally injuring or killing some of the bees. Construction and maintenance permits for all kinds of work could be at risk, and more restrictions on insecticides could be considered.
“It seems the only answer is to not undertake lawful activities,” said Michael Mittelholzer, an assistant staff vice president for environmental policy at the National Association of Home Builders.
Construction permitting takes months, not weeks, and projects are delayed when consultations over endangered species are involved, Mittelholzer told Bloomberg BNA.