From time to time, I bring up political issues that are affecting the environment but I always do so reluctantly. I have this naive need to mobilize the general populace, hoping that our leadership will respond to the will of the people. But sometimes the machinations of the political machine must be pointed out. The Endangered Species Act is one of the foundations of our national environmental policy but it is under attack from the outgoing administration. One of the key provisions of the act is the requirement that any federal agency wishing to take action that may impact a protected species must first consult with federal wildlife scientists to ensure their actions will not have any negative effects. In essence, this independent review prevents the foxes from guarding the hen house.
The current administration has proposed changing this requirement, allowing federal agencies to consult with themselves and not with the independent scientific reviewers. In 2003, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management tried this approach and the end result, according to the departments of Interior and Commerce, was that they made the wrong call 62% of the time.
The current administration has made several attempts to undermine various environmental policies and procedures (see previous postings on July 9th and July 14th). And in this case, the executive branch can make the change without congressional approval. But . . . congress controls the purse strings to implement the changes. If you are one who is proactive enough to write or email your congressional leaders, be sure to make them aware of this potential change in the Endangered Species Act and urge them to not appropriate the funds for its implementation.