California officials outraged at deliberate undermining of ESA New federal rules adopted in the waning days of the Bush administration have swept away Endangered Species Act (ESA) safeguards vital to the protection of California’s and the nation’s most vulnerable species.

Combined with evidence of political interference with the ESA from within the agency charged with administering its provisions, the new, more lax regulations point to a pattern of willful disregard and disruption of the ESA by those charged by Congress with fulfilling its mandate.


Write to California Attorney General Jerry Brown and urge him to continue pressing his suit to overturn the Bush administration’s last-minute rule changes in the ESA. Thank Brown for looking out for the interests of California’s threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Public Inquiry Unit
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

Comments may also be made on the official General Form for Comments/Questions to the attorney general. Access the form at: http://ag.ca.gov/contact/generalform.pdf

Also write to the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to urge them to rescind the new rules to Section 7 of the ESA that allow agency administrators to circumvent ESA requirements for agency review and consultation on federal projects. Press them to assure the public that decisions on endangered species will be made on the basis of scientific review, not politics.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240
Phone: 202-208-3100
Email: webteam@ios.doi.gov

Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of Commerce
14th & Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20230
Phone: 202-482-2000
Email: Webmaster: webmaster@doc.gov


The federal rule changes, made official in December by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), exempt federal agencies from scientific review of their projects’ impacts on threatened and endangered species.

The new rules “are the most significant changes to the ESA and its implementing regulations that have occurred in more than two decades,” said California Attorney General Jerry Brown in October in his official comments to FWS on the rule changes.

On Dec. 29, Brown, on behalf of the people of California, sued the secretaries of Commerce and Interior, along with NMFS and FWS, to overturn the new rules and restore the integrity of the ESA.

The rule changes came, apparently by coincidence, soon after an internal Interior Department investigation severely criticized political interference with the ESA from within FWS.

The report, released in December by the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General, revealed a pattern of willful obstruction and deliberate undermining of the ESA by a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife who “injected herself personally and profoundly in a number of ESA issues."

The politically motivated interference with the ESA process, concluded the investigation, seriously compromised ESA protections relating to such threatened and endangered species as the northern spotted owl, the arroyo toad, the California red-legged frog, the California tiger salamander, and the marbled murrelet.

The new rule changes gutting the ESA, combined with conclusive evidence of political interference from within FWA, indicate a culture of contempt during the Bush administration for the ESA and its mandate to protect endangeres species and their habitats.

Although the prospects for a kinder, gentler approach to endangered species appear brighter under the incoming Obama administration, activists will need to keep up pressure on the new administration’s Commerce and Interior secretaries to overturn the damage done by the outgoing Bush regime.

Previously, FWS and NMFS biologists were required to review all federal projects that might impact threatened and endangered animal and plant species. Now that requirement has been removed, with possible disastrous consequences for listed species.

Prior to the rule changes, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had warned Bush’s Interior Secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, that stripping away the species review “dramatically increases the likelihood that harmful agency actions will move forward without independent review by experts in the Services.”

Brown, too, warned that “the consequence of these proposed rules is to eliminate scientific review from one of the most science-based of government agency decisions and allows self-consultation by federal agency project proponents. This contravenes the statutory mandate that agencies rely on the best available scientific and commercial information in carrying out their duties.”



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