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Endangered Species Act restored

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jeffc | Mar 04, 2009 03:18 PM

Gray wolves and other endangered species will be happy about President Barack Obama's decision on Tuesday to bring back the original rules of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).



In December 2008, as a parting gift, the Bush administration introduced rules to allow federal projects to bypass a mandatory review from either the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. So if federal agencies decided that their proposed highways, dams or mines pose no threat to imperiled species, they wouldn't have to consult with scientists.

But yesterday at the 160th anniversary celebration of the Interior Department, Obama signed a presidential memorandum stating his administration's commitment to restoring the original intent of the ESA, according to The Washington Times. Federal projects will once again be subject to review from wildlife experts.

The Washington Post reports that an Earthjustice lawyer expects the new administration to revisit two pending projects: a Bureau of Land Management plan in Oregon that could affect the northern spotted owl; and also the construction of the White Pine coal-fired power plant in Nevada. A press release from the Center for Biological Diversity said the plant would emit harmful pollutants, affecting air quality and visibility in nearby Great Basin National Park.

Obama's move doesn't change Bush's rule, but it requires that agencies revert to former ESA guidelines. Meanwhile, Obama has instructed officials of the Interior and Commerce Departments to review the Bush rule to see if a new, revised rule should be issued.

"The work of scientists and experts in my administration will be respected," said Obama.


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