Editorial: Secretary Salazar undoes the damages
"The Obama administration is reversing many of the potentially damaging anti-environmental regulations rushed through in the Bush administration’s final months. This week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar withdrew a rule that would have weakened protections for endangered species. He also took the first legal step to revoke a rule that would have allowed the ruinous coal mining practice known as mountaintop removal to inflict even greater damage on Appalachia’s landscape.

Former President George W. Bush’s endangered species rule would have greatly narrowed a longstanding requirement that federal agencies consult with scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before proceeding with any project like a dam or road that could harm an imperiled species. For years, such consultations had been automatic; under the Bush rule, an agency could skip this step if it decided — entirely on its own — that no species would be harmed.

Mr. Bush’s Interior Department presented the change as an overdue act of regulatory streamlining, arguing that it would only affect cases in which there was no obvious threat. But there was impressive evidence assembled by the National Audubon Society and other mainstream environmental groups that federal agencies often underestimated the threat and that projects frequently needed to be modified or scrapped altogether in order to protect endangered species."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Undoing the Damage, Step by Step (The New York Times 4/30)