The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Meghan Crosby, 202-331-6943

New Interior Department Rule Weakens Endangered Species Act, Blatantly Disregards Rulemaking Process, Science Group Says

Statement by Francesca Grifo, Union of Concerned Scientists


Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce today announced a
final rule modifying an Endangered Species Act requirement that federal
agencies consult with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists when
making decisions affecting endangered species. The new rule grants
federal agencies greater leeway in determining to what degree protected
species would be threatened by a range of development projects,
including roads, dams and mines.

Below is a statement by Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists:

new rule is essentially a changing of the guard for determining how
government projects will affect endangered species. Instead of expert
biologists taking the first look at potential consequences, any federal
agency, regardless of its expertise, will now be able to make decisions
that should be determined by the best available science.

not only find the new rule objectionable, but the way the agency
arrived at it is unacceptable. When developing these rules, the
Interior Department closed the door to experts, sharply reduced public
involvement, and afforded only 32 hours of review to more than 230,000
public comments.

Considering the potential significant and long-lasting effects to
imperiled wildlife that could result from this rule change, the
rulemaking process deserved much more transparency than it was afforded.

Obama's administration must take a close look at this rule to ensure
our nation's biodiversity is not being jeopardized by last-minute
regulatory decisions."

For more information about the rule change, go to:

For the UCS Scientific Integrity Program's recommendations for the next administration, go to:

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.