Editoral: Bush undermines Endangered Species Act
"The Bush administration has never masked its distaste for most environmental laws or its ambitions to thwart Congress’s will. Now in its waning months, it is trying to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

This week, the interior secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, proposed a regulatory overhaul of the act that would eliminate the requirement for independent scientific reviews of any project that could harm an endangered species living on federal land.

Instead, federal agencies would decide on their own whether the projects — including construction of highways and dams — pose a threat and then move ahead if they determine there is no problem. Mr. Kempthorne called the changes “narrow.” If these changes are narrow, we hate to think of what he means by broad.

The new regulations would overturn one of the act’s most fundamental provisions. Under current rules, federal agencies are required to submit their plans to either the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service.

This in effect gives scientists at those agencies the right to say no to any project or, as is most often the case, to require modifications if the project threatens an endangered species. Mr. Kempthorne would now effectively remove these agencies, whose job is to oversee the act, from the process.

The dangers of such “self-consultation” should be obvious."

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Editorial: An Endangered Act (The New York Times 8/13)BR>pwnyt

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