On Tuesday, California Attorney General Jerry Brown charged the federal government with illegally gutting provisions of the Endangered Species Act that call for scientific review of decisions threatening the habitat of endangered species.
“The Bush Administration is seeking to gut the Endangered Species Act on its way out the door. This is an audacious attempt to circumvent a time-tested statute that for 35 years has required scientific review of proposed federal agency decisions that affect wildlife.”- Attorney General Brown
The rule changes will allow federal agencies to decide if their actions put wildlife at risk, getting rid of the previous requirement of conducting scientific reviews determining if their actions might be detrimental to endangered or threatened species. The Department of Interior maintains that they can make good decisions themselves without scientist’s input.
“The Department of Interior is ignoring the vast majority of the over 200,000 comments they got on this rule change-by moving forward. They are basically saying public be damned.” - Andrew Wetzler, Director, NRDC Endangered Species program
The administration’s push for “midnight regulation” changes has been denounced by several environmental groups, and now the state of California has decided to file a suit challenging those regulations and calling them “illegal”. The attorney general’s office says they went forward with the suit because “it has both the legal right and the moral responsibility to protect California’s environment and resources.” They state that the new rules will threaten endangered wildlife in California and end up costing the state far more for the protection of plants and animals on the list.
According to the lawsuit filed in Northern California Federal District Court, the Bush administration has violated the Endangered Species Act by:
- Adopting regulations that are inconsistent with that statute.
- Failing to consider the environmental ramifications of the proposed new regulations.
- Not adequately considering public comments submitted by the Attorney General and many other organizations and concerned citizens.
My view? I’ve completely lost faith in the ability of bureaucracy and federal oversight to protect our most valuable heritage: our natural landscape and the plants and animals inhabiting it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
Why is it that a “lame duck” leaving office (forever) can push through last minute rule changes that his successor has to either enforce or overturn, wasting valuable time and money?