With only months to go before leaving office the Bush administration took the wraps off its latest plan to weaken environmental laws. Dale Hall, head of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, announced the administration is proposing changes in current federal rules to allow any government agency the authority to approve projects that could harm rare and threatened wildlife or their habitat. The proposed rule change would replace 35 years of mandatory review by independent federal scientists. The proposed change in wildlife protection rules echoes a similar effort the Bush administration embarked on a few years ago which was stopped by order of a federal court. In that case, the administration gave EPA the authority to approve deadly poisons without first seeking the expert advice of the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. The law required federal wildlife and fisheries agencies to work with their colleagues at EPA; Earthjustice challenged the so-called EPA self-consultation proposal and won.
"It takes great hubris to resurrect an issue the court has already definitely struck down," said Earthjustice Vice-President of Litigation Patti Goldman. "This is like a zombie movie… their proposal to toss the Endangered Species Act over the cliff died, but now has somehow come back to life."
"The Bush/Cheney administration is looking back over the last eight years to see what real benefits they've brought to those who favor short term gain over our environment. They have little to show due to vigilance by conservation, fishing, and hunting groups who have worked to hold the line. Nonetheless, they're trying again to leave favors for powerful friends before leaving office," said Earthjustice attorney Goldman.