White House changes rules to avoid Endangered Species Act

Better practice that beary-paddle, buddy. Either that or evolve gills, quick-like!

The Republicans just changed the rules requiring independent review of endangered species impacts for future projects. Now the "review" can be done by the people with a vested interest in the project going forward, so you can imagine how independent and trustworthy those reviews will be.

Time on Bush's recent rule change:
Environmentalism is synonymous with loss. We fret about the loss of the rain forest, the loss of the Arctic ice cap and, eventually, the loss of a livable planet to climate change. But while that decline is undeniable, it can sometimes obscure several decades of real environmental achievement, including the rehabilitation of scores of animals rescued from the brink of extinction. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) — the 1973 law that requires the Federal Government to protect endangered species and plan for their recovery — iconic animals like the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon and the gray whale have rebounded to healthier numbers. It is one of the real success stories of the green movement.

If the Bush Administration has its way, however, those protections may soon be endangered themselves. The White House on Aug. 11 proposed a sweeping regulatory overhaul of the ESA, virtually eliminating the independent scientific evaluation of the environmental impact of federal actions. The current law mandates that any project that may impact an endangered species and requires approval by a federal agency — for example, a new highway planned by the Department of Transportation that could damage the habitat of a listed red wolf — must undergo an independent review by scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. The proposed new rules would allow the agency in charge of the project — in this example, the Department of Transportation — to decide whether a review would be necessary.
"Yup. I can do the review for you right now... Ummmm... nope. No endangered species impact at all."

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