FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2008
Contact: Kristina Johnson 415.977.5619
Josh Dorner 202.675.2384
Last-Minute Rules Would End Protection for Endangered Wildlife
Interior Department Makes Biggest Assault Yet on Landmark Environmental Law
Washington, D.C. - A new set of draft rules proposed by the Bush administration and reported by the Associated Press today would effectively eradicate the key laws that protect endangered species in the United States.
Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope
This plan repeats and includes all of the disdain for science and political trumping of expertise that has characterized previous Bush Administration efforts to dismantle fundamental environmental laws.
These rules send a clear signal that the Administration will spend the rest of its days razing what remains of the rules and regulations that have kept wildlife like the bald eagle from going extinct.
The new rules take decision-making on endangered species listings out of the hands of scientists and wildlife professionals at agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and instead put those decisions in the hands of agencies working on projects that may be adversely affected by a listing.
For example, under these proposed rules, the Department of Transportation, not wildlife biologists, would decide whether an animal is threatened by a highway project.
The Interior Department is now trying to use administrative tricks do what Congress would not allow--a complete deconstruction of the Endangered Species Act.
This plan to render the ESA impotent would exclude federal biologists from the decision about whether a federal project threatens endangered wildlife. It also specifies that if an agency chops its projects into small enough pieces, then "by definition" the project is so small that it cannot be a threat.
This is the most egregious and sweeping assault in a string of attacks on the Endangered Species Act by this administration. If these regulations had been in play for the past few decades, we would not have brought the bald eagle back from the brink of extinction.