Interior, Commerce Departments Overturn Rule That Cut Science Out of Endangered Species Act

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Meghan Thornton, 202-331-6943

Interior, Commerce Departments Overturn Rule That Cut Science Out of Endangered Species Act

Statement by Francesca Grifo, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON - Today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar rescinded
eleventh-hour Bush administration changes to Endangered Species Act
regulations that allowed federal agencies to decide for themselves if
their own projects -- such as roads and dams -- would threaten
imperiled species. Federal agencies again will be required to consult
with expert biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or
National Marine Fisheries Service before undertaking or permitting new
projects.

The
rule change was just one of several controversial Bush administration
actions that undermined the scientific foundation of the Endangered
Species Act, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

In
a related story, 1,300 biologists and three scientific societies
representing some 20,000 scientists sent separate letters last Friday
to the Interior and Commerce departments urging them to overturn the
last-minute Bush rule changes. (For the biologists' letter, go to: www.ucsusa.org/biologistsletter. For the scientific societies' letter, go to http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/ESA-InteragencyCoop.pdf.)   

Below is a statement by Francesca Grifo, director of UCS's Scientific Integrity Program:

"Several
last-minute Bush administration regulatory changes have undermined the
scientific foundation of the Endangered Species Act, and today the
Obama administration has begun to repair the damage. The message from
tens of thousands of scientists around the country is clear: These
unwarranted changes fundamentally undermine our ability to protect
imperiled plants and animals.

"Today,
the Obama administration restored critical checks and balances to
protect our nation's biodiversity. Interior Secretary Salazar's
decision is a long-awaited first step. But there is much more to be
done. The Obama administration must thoroughly review how science is
used to ensure that our nation's imperiled species have a chance to
survive -- and thrive."

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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.

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