Sunday, October 12, 2008

Environmentalists slam Bush 'fox-in-henhouse' plan

Reuters: A Bush administration plan to let U.S. agencies decide for themselves whether their actions put wildlife at risk is drawing fire from environmental groups, which say this is like letting a fox guard a henhouse. The Interior Department, one of two federal agencies pushing for this policy change, rejects the environmentalists' critique, saying the new rule would cut bureaucratic red tape and free government scientists for more important work.

But a coalition of conservation groups sees the move as an attempt to gut the Endangered Species Act. "This is exactly the fox guarding the henhouse," Michael Daulton of the National Audubon Society said. "It's a scary proposition to think about agencies with no wildlife expertise at all making decisions about the fate of species, potentially leading to extinction."

The 35-year-old Endangered Species Act is meant to protect threatened wildlife by relying on the best available science, the environmentalists noted. Government scientists must now consult with agencies on projects that could put species at risk. The rules change could take scientists out of the equation, the conservation coalition maintained.

…”This proposed rule change is obviously a Hail Mary pass to industry friends in the final days of the Bush administration and it will fail," said Janette Brimmer, a lawyer with Earthjustice.

…."The abbreviated timeline and restrictive commenting options raise serious concerns that the Department of the Interior is attempting to rewrite a bedrock environmental statute without allowing for anything approaching adequate public involvement," the environmental groups said in a letter to the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service….

Chicken behind the mesh in a hen house, shot by Cacycle, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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