For Immediate Release
Less Than 1% of Comments Favor Bush Endangered Species Plan
Proposed Changes Never Reviewed by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Call for Congress to Close the Federal Register Now
WASHINGTON - Proposed regulations by the Bush Administration to ease protections
for endangered species have generated more than 300,000 comments
overwhelmingly in opposition. Rushing to process all of the comments,
officials have developed a code to assign a number for each of the more
than 100 different policy and legal objections raised by opponents so
the comments can be responded to en masse, according to a document
posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
The code consists of seven pages listing argument after
argument opponents have raised, including an array of legal, practical
and economic concerns. It was developed from sampling several thousand
comments. The code enables Bush administration lawyers to write up
answers without having to actually read the comments. These samples
also show only a miniscule portion of comments (less than 1%) favor the
Nonetheless, the Bush administration plans to disregard all of the
arguments and finalize the new rules before the next administration is
sworn in. President-elect Obama has already announced his opposition to
the Bush endangered species plan and pledged to reverse it, a process
that could take months, however.
"This is the last hurrah of the Bush administration and they have no
intention of letting public input or logic get in the way," stated PEER
Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the endangered species rules
are one of a slew of "midnight regulations" being pursued in the final
weeks of the Bush administration on topics ranging from occupational
health to air pollution to birth control. "Congress could close this
circus down by acting to freeze the Federal Register when it returns to
session later this month."
The Bush endangered species rules would allow federal agencies to
dispense with the advice of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists
about whether projects like highways or power-plants pose potential
harm to federally protected species. Opponents in the conservation
community contend that this would dramatically weaken Endangered
Species Act protections by removing preventative measures which
eliminate conflict early in the planning process. These changes would
be the first major rewrite on the rules since 1986.
"This plan did not come from the scientists who administer the
Endangered Species Act," Ruch added. "In fact, the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service, the agency most affected by the plan, did not have a
role in reviewing this plan. It was dictated by political appointees in
its parent agency, the Interior Department."
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