Endangered Species Act Changes Deemed 'Bad Science'

Bush administration threatens to remove scientific oversight

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Bush, you just can’t let up on those endangered species, can you? In the twilight days of his administration, the Bush Interior Department has proposed changes that remove the scientific oversight of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the Endangered Species Act.

Typically, when the federal government proposes a project near an endangered species, they then have to perform a biological assessment to determine whether that project has the potential to impact that species. But even if they determine that it won’t, they still have to submit to a Fish and Wildlife analysis. They can only proceed after obtaining a letter of permission from the USFWS.

The new rules would remove the USFWS oversight, relying on government agencies to make their own judgment calls without any outside review. While proponents liken this to cutting bureaucratic red tape, scientists and conservationists point out obvious dangers. Scientists from the NRDC and Environmental Defense Fund have already condemned the effort, and senators John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have fired letters of complaint to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

While this remains a persistent threat to endangered species, both sides agree this truly won’t be decided until after November’s presidential election.

Until then, you can kill some time by reacquainting yourself with some of the world’s weirdest endangered species.

— Ted Alvarez

Changes to Endangered Species Act Called Bad Science (U.S. News & World Report)