The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

50,000 Petitions Delivered to Interior Secretary Salazar

Requesting He Rescind Bush Regulations That Weaken the Endangered Species Act


The Center for Biological Diversity today delivered nearly 50,000 petitions to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
requesting that he rescind two rules passed in the final days of the Bush
administration that weaken the Endangered Species Act. One of these rules exempts
thousands of federal activities, including those that generate greenhouse
gases, from review under the Endangered Species Act, and the other sharply
limits protections for the threatened polar bear.

Congress passed legislation on March 10 giving Secretary
Salazar power during the following 60 days to rescind both rules with the
stroke of a pen or until May 9. Despite the fact that half of the 60 days have
passed, Secretary Salazar has given no indication of whether he will use the
power granted by Congress.

"President Obama, Congress and now the American people
have all expressed opposition to the Bush administration regulations,"
said Bill Snape, who delivered the petitions and is senior counsel for the Center
for Biological Diversity. "It has been 30 days since Congress gave
Secretary Salazar authority to rescind these rules, yet to date, we've
heard nothing from the secretary on whether he intends to use this authority."

The Bush rules allow federal agencies to determine for themselves
whether their actions are likely to harm endangered species and thus whether
they need independent scientific review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and
National Marine Fisheries services. The rules also prohibit any consideration of the
impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from federal projects on endangered species
like the polar bear. Greenhouse gas emissions are currently predicted to result
in loss of two-thirds of the world's polar bear population by 2050. If
the rules are allowed to remain in place, the Fish and Wildlife Service will
not be able to consider and mitigate such impacts.

"These regulations are a disaster for the
nation's endangered species," said Snape. "This is a major
test for Secretary Salazar - we need to know whether he will live up to
President Obama's commitment to support a strong Endangered Species

On April 3, 44 members of the House
of Representatives, including seven committee chairman and several other
high-ranking leaders, sent a letter to secretaries Salazar and Locke
urging them to use the authority to rescind the rules.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252