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Opinion
Editorial: Speed-reading at the Interior Department


"In its closing months, the Bush administration is pulling out all the stops in its eight-year effort to undermine the Endangered Species Act. In mid-August, the administration proposed two dangerous regulatory changes. One would free the government from considering the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on polar bears and other imperiled wildlife. The other would eliminate some expert scientific reviews of federal projects that could harm endangered species.

Under the law, such proposed rules changes must be opened for public comment before they take effect. The idea, at least the way we have always understood it, is for the government to listen to what citizens are saying before making important policy changes.

Americans are clearly concerned about these new proposals: the agency received 300,000 comments. Last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service, presumably at the behest of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, summoned 15 employees from their field offices to Washington to read the comments.

We are delighted that the secretary wanted them read. Unfortunately, the employees were given less than a week to do so. If you assume an eight-hour workday, that means the group was zipping through somewhere north of 7,000 comments an hour."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Speed-Reading at Interior (The New York Times 10/25)
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Related Stories:
Interior to read 200,000 comments in 32 hours (10/22)
Kempthorne: Narrow changes for endangered species (9/2)
Editorial: Endangered Species Act in danger (8/20)
Editoral: Bush undermines Endangered Species Act (8/13)
Interior proposes endangered species change (8/12)