The new, weaker Bush administration ESA rule cuts federal wildlife scientists out of the review process for federal projects. It allows federal agencies involved with projects such as new highways, bridges, dams and airports to make their own determination of the threats posed to imperiled wildlife, a move that wildlife organizations believe poses grave threats to wildlife.
"The Bush administration changed the rules in a last minute rush, shredding the safety net of the Endangered Species Act. America's wildlife, including polar bears, salmon, wolves, and many other species were likely to fall through the gaping holes created by the hasty actions of the Bush administration," said Earthjustice attorney Janette Brimmer.
"While Earthjustice took immediate action to get full ESA protections restored, we'd be delighted if Congress restored those protections for America's wildlife without Earthjustice having to proceed in court."
The Bush rule also ignored federal requirements that assure the public's right to review and comment on proposed rule changes. The Bush administration fast-tracked this proposal with as little public input as possible, refusing to accept comments by email or hold public hearings. Administration officials spent only four days reviewing the estimated 235,000 public comments regarding the rule change. Of that total, they admitted 200,000 opposed the rule change.
Conservation and fishing groups, represented by Earthjustice, are currently challenging the new rule in federal district court. When legislation is signed to overturn the weaken rule, this litigation will no longer be necessary.
Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 29