Tuesday, March 3, 2009

From Wolves to Sharks: undoing 11th hour damage from a prior administration

In December and January, I posted items regarding the previous U.S. administration's 11th actions to change or loosened environmental protections. These ranged from removal of the Gray Wolf from the endangered species list to allowing federal agencies to move forward on projects without consulting with environmental experts to looser air quality standards. (Read prior postings: Dec. '08 / Jan. '09)
  • The challenge was that to undo the damage required a complex and lengthy process. But an amendment to a spending bill will empower President Obama to reverse the rule (one of the few times that something tacked on to a bill made any sense).
  • Shortly after his inauguration, the president ordered all pending Bush regulations to be frozen. The Dept. of the Interior has cancelled oil and gas drilling leases near national parks (another piece of 11th hour chicanery).
  • In addition, the president has directed the EPA to reconsider its denial of California's request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for automobiles (California's proposed regulations are stricter than federal standards).
Shark News!

Additionally, the Shark Conservation Act (H.R.81), that was making progress in 2008 but ultimately languished and was reintroduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, was passed by the House of Representatives on Monday. H.R. 81 requires that all caught sharks must have their fins naturally attached. This will allow better enforcement of anti-finning laws and better management of catches (it's difficult to determine the number and species of sharks being taken when all there is for inspection is a hold full of fins).

The Senate must pass the legislation and many of the NGOs are lining up support efforts to make sure voices are heard. Check in with Oceana.org to see what you can do. (Oceana press release.)

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