The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Cat Lazaroff, 202-772-3270

Bush Administration Leaves a Stained Legacy on Environmental Issues

Weakened protections for wildlife and public lands should be reversed


The Bush administration is using its waning days to finalize
regulations that undermine safeguards for wildlife and natural resources and to
build a barrier against Congressional and public challenges to these regulatory
changes, according to testimony delivered to Congress on Thursday.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife,
testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global
Warming regarding the Bush administration's assault on environmental laws and
the need for the next administration to reverse the damage.

"Given the magnitude of unprecedented challenges that the incoming
administration of President-elect Obama and the Congress will face on the
economy and foreign policy, this hearing is an important means of ensuring that
we do not lose track of the pressing needs created by the Bush administration's
assault on key rules that have guided this nation's stewardship of our
endangered species and public lands," said Clark.

Clark noted a number of attacks on the Endangered Species Act (ESA),
* A proposal to eliminate the requirement that federal
agencies consult with wildlife biologists on the impacts their projects might
have on endangered species;
* Barring consideration of the impacts on
endangered species from actions that contribute to global warming;
* A radical new interpretation of the ESA that could allow species
protections to be drawn along political lines such as state boundaries, rather
than along biological imperatives.

Clark also noted a number of other damaging proposals and actions by the Bush
administration including:
* The last-minute repackaging of a "deeply
flawed" rule removing ESA protections from gray wolves in the Northern
* A rule accompanying the polar bear listing under the ESA that
effectively prevents the listing from offering polar bears any meaningful
additional protection;
* Opening areas of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to
development of oil shale, the very worst fuel source in terms of greenhouse gas
* Opening millions of acres of land in Utah for oil and gas
drilling near Arches National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, and Canyonlands
National Park, as well as in areas critical to wildlife and near Native American
archaeological sites; and
* Eliminating any and all Congressional
authority to withdraw federal land parcels from planned developments like oil
drilling or uranium mining.

It will be up to the incoming Obama administration to "erase the stained
natural resources legacy of the Bush administration," Clark said.

Read Jamie Rappaport Clark's full testimony

Defenders of Wildlife is the premier U.S.-based national conservation organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of imperiled species and their habitats in North America.

(202) 682-9400