Friday, April 24, 2009

Endangered Species Act: government feet-dragging over critical corrections

The issue of overturning many of the 11th hour steps taken by the previous U.S. administration that weakened environmental protections and regulations have been addressed several times in this blog in the past (Click here and here). But one of the big challenges we face is the tendency for government to procrastinate, stall, or stonewall acting on environmental or conservation issues until it is more convenient or financial feasible (as if nature is listening to our endless stream of rationales).

The Center for Biological Diversity(CBD) is focused on an upcoming deadline regarding a procedural process to undo crippling changes to the Endangered Species Act(ESA):

Dear Richard,

A crucial deadline is looming: By May 9, the Obama administration has to seize its opportunity to overturn last-minute Bush administration regulations that gut the Endangered Species Act, or it will miss the chance. The Bush rules exempt thousands of federal activities from review under the Endangered Species Act, and specifically exclude greenhouse gas emissions from regulation. If this administration doesn't withdraw those "extinction rules" by May 9, they will stay in effect -- a disaster for endangered species.

Congress specifically empowered Obama's secretaries of Commerce and Interior with the authority to overturn the Bush extinction regulations with the stroke of a pen. The secretaries of Commerce and Interior jointly administer the Endangered Species Act, with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (under Commerce) responsible for marine species such as whales and sea turtles, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (in Interior) responsible for species such as wolves and polar bears.

While more than 80,000 people have written to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar demanding he revoke the Bush rules, Gary Locke has only recently been confirmed as secretary of Commerce and has yet to take a position on the issue. Similarly, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the new head of the National Ocean Atmospheric Administration, has failed to take a public position on rescinding the extinction rules.
Please contact Secretary Locke and Dr. Lubchenco and urge them to immediately revoke the Bush extinction regulations.

The Endangered Species Act has served nature well for 35 years. And it's more important today than ever. Here's a link to a CBD web page where you can add your voice. Click here.

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