The State of the Union address is scheduled for this coming Tuesday evening, but at least one member of Congress won't be there, because he has pressing chicken-related matters that urgently need his attention.
Yes, via Rebecca Berg at Buzzfeed comes the news that New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce will not be in attendance at next week's joint address to Congress by President Barack Obama, because of the stuff about these chickens that's just too important, man.
But I'm burying the lede here, of course, and you probably want to know about the chicken-related emergency that is understandably going to draw Pearce away from the State of the Union address -- which, let's face it, will probably not offer much relief for anyone's chicken problems, and concern itself with immigration and gun safety legislation instead. Per Berg:
The "chicken" in question, the lesser prairie-chicken, is a candidate to be listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- and the public hearing to evaluate that proposal in New Mexico will be held concurrently with the president's State of the Union address.
So Pearce ... I mean, come on ... he's got to be there. And so he sent his RSVP to the State of the Union over Twitter, saying, "Public hearing on the chicken is the same day as the State of the Union. It's more important to be in NM, standing with you."
Oh, totally. Standing with New Mexico doing what, now? Well, as the witty reprobates at HuffPost Hill reported at the end of January:
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by the end of September whether to put the birds on its list of endangered species, a move could have serious repercussions for the energy industry, conceivably halting oil, gas and wind farm operations in some areas. Congressman Steve Pearce isn't waiting around to find out what happens. "Our jobs and our way of life in southern New Mexico are under attack," said Pearce in a press release Thursday. "The prairie chicken is yet another example of federal species regulation not based on science, but rather driven by lawyers for extreme interest groups." Pearce will attend a rally in Roswell, New Mexico on February 12 to oppose the listing of the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act.
According to Open Secrets, the oil and gas industry is the largest contributing special interest to Pearce's campaigns, with Mack Energy and Yates Petroleum as his top two sources of campaign cash. So, you know, the "system" is "working."
Back in November of 2012, Pearce contended that "the prairie chicken population is on the rise or holding steady in many parts of the country, suggesting the success of current agreements and calling into question the need for federal regulation." However, the lesser prairie chicken is "vulnerable," with a population on the decline, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's "Red List," which keeps track of endangered and vulnerable species across the globe. (There is also a creature called the greater prairie chicken that is also considered vulnerable, but I guess it's easier to pick on the lesser prairie chicken.)
In Pearce's defense, he says he's long planned to take care of the junk with the chickens, like way before they scheduled the State of the Union address, so don't blame him. Also, the address will probably not suffer from his absence, so whatever, no biggie.
So to all the lesser prairie chickens: Have fun in lesser prairie chicken heaven, I guess.
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