Bush Administration Moves To Gut Endangered Species Act

A secret draft of regulations (pdf) that would fundamentally rewrite the Endangered Species Act was leaked to two environmental organizations, which provided them to the press Tuesday. An article in Salon quotes Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman saying, “The proposed changes fundamentally gut the intent of the Endangered Species Act.”

The changes are fiercely technical and complicated, but make future listings extremely difficult, redefine key concepts to the detriment of protected species, virtually hand over administration of the act to hostile states, and severely restrict habitat protections.

Many of the changes — lifted from unsuccessful legislative proposals from then-Senator (now Interior Secretary) Dirk Kempthorne and the recently defeated congressman Richard Pombo — are reactions to policies and practices established as a result of litigation filed by environmental organizations including Earthjustice.

“After the failure of these legislative proposals in the last Congress, the Bush administration has opted to gut the Endangered Species Act through the only avenue left open: administrative regulations,” said Hasselman. “This end-run around the will of Congress and the American people will not succeed.”

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