Bush Administration To End-Run Endangered Species' Protections
Back from junketing to the Olympics, and with just a few months left to wreak havoc on domestic and foreign affairs, Pres. George W. Bush has launched a new effort through administrative rules to help developers, road-builders and other special interests:
Let government project managers, not scientific experts, determine whether their projects put endangered species at risk.
Conservatives at mining, logging, energy, highway and other industries, and their blogger/commentator allies who are usually suspicious of bureaucrats will be elated.
The key paragraphs from AP:
"If approved, the changes would represent the biggest overhaul of the Endangered Species Act since 1988. They would accomplish through regulations what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects.
"The changes would apply to any project a federal agency would fund, build or authorize. Government wildlife experts currently perform tens of thousands of such reviews each year.
"If adopted, these changes would seriously weaken the safety net of habitat protections that we have relied upon to protect and recover endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years," said John Kostyack, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming initiative.
"Under current law, federal agencies must consult with experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine whether a project is likely to jeopardize any endangered species or to damage habitat, even if no harm seems likely.
"This initial review usually results in accommodations that better protect the 1,353 animals and plants in the U.S. listed as threatened or endangered and determines whether a more formal analysis is warranted.
"The Interior Department said such consultations are no longer necessary because federal agencies have developed expertise to review their own construction and development projects, according to the 30-page draft obtained by the AP."
Looks like the fox is guarding the hen house here. Like we'd trust a Government PM any more than a no-bid Halliburton contract. Bush is really trying to cement his reputation as "Worst President Ever."
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