One Last Call To Help The Endangered Species Act


You know, I kind of thought that maybe with the current president's low approval rating that he might do something "nice" like establish a bunch of National Parks and Historic sites. It's the thing to do when you are leaving office to try and keep a positive legacy. I was wrong. No matter how many of us have protested, the Endangered Species Act is in grave danger.

From the Associated Press:

The Bush administration has until Friday to publish new rules in order for them to take effect before President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in. Otherwise, Obama can undo them with the stroke of a pen.

A rule eliminating the mandatory, independent advice of government scientists in decisions about whether dams, highways and other projects are likely to harm species looked likely to meet the deadline, leaving the only chance for a quick reversal to Congress.

A Nov. 12 version of the final endangered species rules obtained by The Associated Press has changed little from the original proposal, despite the more than 250,000 comments received since it was first proposed in August.

The rules eliminate the input of federal wildlife scientists in some endangered species cases, allowing the federal agency in charge of building, authorizing or funding a project to determine for itself whether the project is likely to harm endangered wildlife and plants.

Current regulations require independent wildlife biologists to sign off on these decisions before a project can go forward, at times modifying the design to better protect species.

The regulations also bar federal agencies from assessing emissions of the gases blamed for global warming on species and habitats, a tactic environmentalists have tried to use to block new coal-fired power plants. But the Bush administration feels that endangered species laws should not be used to regulate greenhouse gases.

Tina Kreisher, an Interior Department spokeswoman, could not confirm whether the rule would be published before the deadline, saying only that the White House was still reviewing it. She said it was possible more changes could be made.

"We started this; we want to finish this," Kreisher said.

If the rules go into effect before Obama takes office, they will be difficult to overturn since it would require the new administration to restart the rule-making process. Congress, however, could reverse the rules through the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows review of new federal regulations.

It's been used once in the past 12 years, but some Democratic lawmakers have said they may employ it to block the endangered species rules and other last-minute regulations by the Bush administration.

The Huffington Post reports:

The Interior Department rushed to complete the rules in three months over the objections of lawmakers and environmentalists who argued that they would weaken how a landmark conservation law is applied.

A Nov. 12 version of the final rules obtained by the Associated Press has changed little from the original proposal, despite the more than 250,000 comments received since it was first proposed in August.