The Bush administration just won't quit trying to weaken the Endangered Species Act. Big rewrites require Congressional approval, so instead they're quietly revising the regulations that implement the act.
In August, the administration proposed letting federal agencies decide for themselves if, say, a new dam or highway would harm any endangered or threatened species, rather than requiring the agencies to take advice from federal wildlife biologists. And, in the wake of the polar bear listing, the proposal also contained provisions to ensure that climate change effects don't have to be considered (hey, it's bad for business).
Now, leaked government documents from PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, show how administration officials are rushing to ensure that enviros won't again succeed in using the Endangered Species Act to help address global warming.
One of the memos, from the Interior Department's top lawyer, concluded that emissions of greenhouse gases from any proposed project can't be proved to have an impact on species or habitat, so it isn't necessary for federal agencies to consult with government wildlife experts about the impact of such gases on species as stipulated under the Endangered Species Act.
The new rules would mean, for example, that the EPA can approve a new coal-fired power plant without having to consider whether the plant's greenhouse gas emissions change the climate and thereby harm listed wildlife species.
Meanwhile, here's a recent message from Dale Hall, the director of those "government wildlife experts" (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service):
Dealing with the magnitude and uncertainty of climate change will require commitment and dedication of all of us in the Service, as well as the help and support of our partners and the American people. I have no doubt that by working together we can continue to conserve and protect our Nation’s fish and wildlife resources today, tomorrow and for generations to come.
Nice words. But apparently "our partners" should be amended to: "our partners, except for all other federal agencies."