"In May, as I announced the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, I also signaled that I would update the Endangered Species Act regulations to prevent abuse of the listing to erect a backdoor climate policy outside our normal system of political accountability.
Never designed to address global challenges like climate change, current ESA regulations could lead to a flood of unnecessary consultation on projects or other actions that will not harm listed species. I proposed changes to the ESA regulations to fulfill my earlier commitment by clarifying that consultation is not required in these circumstances.
In listing the polar bear, we concluded that melting sea ice associated with a changing climate will reduce bear habitat in the foreseeable future to an extent that threatens the bear's survival.
Though we drew that conclusion, at the same time scientists told us it is not possible to establish a causal connection between a particular emission - say from an individual power plant - and loss of sea ice or harm to bears.
This rule follows that same science and logic, and it clarifies that for projects that have no effects on listed species at all, insignificant effects or wholly beneficial effects, an agency may choose not to consult.
By clarifying that certain actions do not require consultation, the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries will be able to focus their time and resources on analysis and actions that really make a difference in protecting species. Under the ESA, when federal agencies, build a road, install a dike, restore a wetland, issue a permit for a power plant or take any other action, they must consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service or NOAA Fisheries, if that action might affect a threatened or endangered species."
Get the Story:
Dirk Kempthorne: Narrow changes proposed to species act rules
(The Billings Gazette 9/2)
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