For Immediate Release
Bush Administration Bows to Calls for More Public Input in Endangered Species Act Regulations
WASHINGTON - Today, the Bush Administration announced that they would extend the comment period on their proposed regulations that would weaken the Endangered Species Act. Over 100 citizens groups have asked the administration for adequate time to respond to the proposed rules that would dramatically change the landmark conservation law.
"We welcome the additional time to oppose the Bush Extinction Plan and demonstrate the vast public support for the Endangered Species Act," said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "The American public will not stand for such an underhanded attempt by this lame duck administration to weaken protections for our nation's wildlife and wild lands."
The proposed regulatory changes were published August 15, 2008, while Congress was out for recess and many Americans were enjoying the summer holiday. The rule would radically weaken the Endangered Species Act's consultation process and the checks and balances in the law.
"The Bush Administration is attempting a last minute giveaway to their friends in the oil, mining, logging and development industries," said Huta. "The proposed regulatory changes came out in the eleventh hour of the Bush administration. They are trying every trick in the book to rewrite bedrock environmental protections."
Last month, 106 conservation and scientific organizations representing millions of American's submitted a letter to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez calling for increased transparency and opportunities for public participation on a new rule proposal. The letter organized by the Endangered Species Coalition urged the administration to allow the public adequate time to address the breadth and depth that these changes to the Endangered Species Act regulations will have on protecting our most imperiled wildlife.
"The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for our nation's wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction," said Jon Hunter, Policy Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "The Bush administration's proposed regulations will cut a giant loophole in the safety net."
The rule is one in a series of proposed regulatory changes to the Endangered Species Act released by the Bush Administration in the past several months. Conservationists have labeled the series of regulations the "Bush Extinction Plan." The Administration has also proposed rules that would make significant changes in the way endangered species are listed and their habitat is protected.
The proposed regulatory changes came out in the eleventh hour of the Bush administration. The administration initially announced a 30 day public comment period, have now extended it for another 30 days. However, this is far short of the 120 day comment period and a series of public field hearings that citizens groups requested. The administration is still refusing to accept e-mail comments or hold public hearings on the proposed rule. Instead, comments will be accepted by mail, or through a government Web site that warns reviewers their personal information will be posted on the internet for public dissemination.
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The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of hundreds of conservation, scientific, sporting, religious, humane, business and community groups across the country working to protect our nation's wildlife and wild places.