FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 28, 2009
Washington, D.C.—One of the Bush Administration's most notorious last-minute actions was the imposition of a midnight rule that effectively gutted the Endangered Species Act. The Bush rule ended the so-called scientific consultation procedures that required projects to be reviewed by the professional scientists of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service. The Bush rule would have let agencies decide for themselves whether or not their projects were harmful to protected species and their habitat. The Department of Transportation, for instance, could have decided on its own whether a highway project should move forward.
On March 3, President Obama addressed the staff at the Department of the Interior's headquarters and announced that he was halting the Bush rule and voluntarily reinstating the consultation procedure pending a review of the Bush administration's changes. The omnibus spending measure passed by Congress earlier this year also provided the Obama administration with additional authority to revoke the controversial changes. Today's final action by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce will restore the ESA's consultation rules.
Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director
"Today's announcement once again underscores the Obama administration's commitment to let science and the rule of law—not politics—be their guide. This decision caps off 100 days of change that have righted many of the Bush administration's wrongs, while also making a historic down payment on a cleaner planet and more prosperous future.
"The Bush rules would have allowed agencies with little or no wildlife expertise to make decisions that could mean life or death for animals like the polar bear. Today's decision restores the important protections for species and their habitats offered by one of our nation's most fundamental environmental laws.
"After eight long years of scandal and ignominy, President Obama and Secretary Salazar have restored integrity to the Department of Interior. They have made developing our nation's abundant clean energy sources—not bowing to partisan political considerations or the wishes of polluters—job number one at the agency."
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