The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Leda Huta, Endangered Species Coalition (202) 320-6467

Conservation Groups Assail Bush Endangered Species Rewrite on Hill

Congress Holds Hearing on Endangered Species Act Proposed Regulations


Today, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a hearing on the Bush Administration's environmental record and their new proposed regulation to severely weaken the Endangered Species Act. The groups called on Congress to stop this new regulation that would gut one of our nation's most important conservation laws.

"We urge Congress to do everything in their power to stop the Bush Extinction Plan," said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "Congress and the American public should not stand for such an underhanded attempt by this lame duck administration to gut the Endangered Species Act. We thank Senator Boxer for holding the hearing to draw attention to the Bush Administration's last ditch attempts to impair protections for our nation's wildlife and wild places."

The Bush Administration has released proposals that would significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act. Their latest proposal seeks to eliminate the requirement that federal agencies consult with independent wildlife experts and to prohibit consideration of the impacts of global warming on wildlife. Another may be surreptitiously attempting make it harder to list certain species and protect their habitat.

"Animals on the brink of extinction need consideration and protection guided by the best experts in the federal government: US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service biologists," said Susan Holmes of Earthjustice.

"The Bush administration proposal eliminates the critical checks and balances needed to protect imperiled birds and cuts species experts from the process of making decisions that need to be science-based," said Mike Daulton, with National Audubon Society.

Members of Congress have many opportunities to oppose the Bush Extinction Plan. Senator Boxer is holding a hearing on the "Bush Administration Environmental Record at the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency" on Wednesday, September 24th that will highlight the Endangered Species Act proposed regulations. Congressman Rahall, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, is circulating a letter to the Department of Interior opposing the regulations.

"The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for our nation's wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction. The Bush administration's proposed regulations will cut a giant loophole in the safety net," said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity. "We have a responsibility to future generations to be good stewards and protect endangered species and the special places they call home."

The proposed regulatory changes came out in the eleventh hour of the Bush administration. The abbreviated timeline and restrictive commenting options raise serious concerns that the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce is attempting to rewrite a bedrock environmental statute without allowing for adequate public involvement.

"The agencies are pushing these drastic changes through without adequate public participation," said John Kosytack of the National Wildlife Federation, "The Endangered Species Act is a success story and must not be weakened in the waning days of this administration."

"Big industry barons and their friends in the Bush administration are trying to do what they could never do through Congress, which is roll back the Endangered Species Act. But Congress still has an opportunity to stop this underhanded attempt to go around the public," said Josh Pollock of the Center for Native Ecosystems.

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 opposing the regulations and calling for increased transparency and opportunities for public participation on a new rule proposal.

"Congress must stop the Bush Administration's last minute giveaway to their friends in the oil, mining, logging and development industries," said Leda Huta of the Endangered Species Coalition. "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."