Comments on proposed changes to ESA due by Monday, Sept. 15!

Environmental groups across the nation, including Forests Forever, are urging their members and supporters to act swiftly– by the deadline of Monday, Sept. 15– to reject a proposed regulatory overhaul of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The rule changes, if adopted by the Bush administration, would exempt federal agencies from scientific review of their projects’ impacts on threatened and endangered species.

“These rule changes would allow federal logging, dam construction, and road-building projects to bypass scientific review of their possible impacts on threatened and endangered species,” said Forests Forever Executive Director Paul Hughes.”

In August, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne proposed a regulatory overhaul of the ESA that, according to the Washington Post, would “allow federal agencies to decide whether protected species would be imperiled by agency projects, eliminating the independent scientific reviews that have been required for more than three decades.”

The ESA provides that the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce share responsibilities for implementing most of the provisions of the Act. Those departments delegate authority to administer the act to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

The new rules, according to the Post, “would use administrative powers to make broad changes in the law that Congress has resisted for years.”

Current law provides for the FWS and NMFS to review all federal projects that might impact threatened and endangered animal and plant species.

“Under the proposed new rules,” according to the Post, “dam and highway construction and other federal projects could proceed without delay if the agency in charge decides they would not harm vulnerable species.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has objected strongly to the proposed new rules. In a letter to Kempthorne in August, Boxer wrote: “The proposed regulations greatly undermine the Act's purpose to conserve endangered and threatened species and appear to contravene the plain language of the Act.

“Among the many serious flaws in the draft regulations,” added Boxer, “is that they would allow federal action [by] agencies to decide unilaterally that consultations with [FWS or NMFS] are not necessary– consultations that are required by law and that have been important to the conservation and protection of endangered and threatened species.”

Boxer warned Kempthorne that “the proposal dramatically increases the likelihood that harmful agency actions will move forward without independent review by experts in the Services.”


Your response to this Bush administration push to undermine the ESA must be posted online by September 15.

To comment on this dangerously flawed undermining of the ESA, go to Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.govand search for "interagency cooperation under the Endangered Species Act". The link for posting comments will be found there. The document ID is FWS-R9-ES-2008-0093-0001

Note: Be aware before posting that your entire comment, including your address, phone number, e-mail address or other personal identifying information, may be made publicly available on the government website.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks 1849 C Street, NW. Washington, DC 20240 Tel.: 202-208-4416 James H. Lecky Director Office of Protected Resources National Marine Fisheries Service 1315 East-West Highway Silver Spring, MD 20910 Tel.: 301-713-2332. Saving endangered species means saving their critical habitat. Please send your comment today.

Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places