Endangered species are “breathing a sigh of relief today” with the announcement that President Obama will issue a presidential memorandum reversing a December 2008 Bush administration decision that “eviscerated” the Endangered Species Act.
The move will restore a longstanding and key protection of the ESA, stripped away by the Bush administration, that required federal agencies to consult with independent federal wildlife experts and scientists to determine how their actions would impact threatened or endangered species.
“Bringing science back into decision-making”
Carl Pope, the Sierra Club’s executive director, issued a statement saying that the Bush rules “would have allowed agencies with little or no wildlife expertise to make decisions that could mean life or death for animals like the polar bear. When it comes to protecting wildlife, we should listen to the scientists who spend their lives studying these animals,” adding that “President Obama is bringing science back into decision-making.”
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-W.V.), who had been actively seeking to reverse Bush’s decision through the legislative process, also applauded Obama’s decision:
“I wholeheartedly support the president’s proposal to restore the protections for endangered species that the Bush administration spent so many years trying to undermine.”
“It is one more indication that the new administration truly represents change for the better and is committed to the protection of our natural resources and our environment. I think we know who would have been the winner in this fox guarding the hen house scenario advanced by the Bush administration, and it would not be the hens.”
Speaking from Department of Interior headquarters today, where he helped the agency celebrate its 160th birthday, president Obama said that “the work of scientists and experts in my administration, including right here in the Interior Department, will be respected. For more than three decades, the endangered species act has successfully protected our nation’s most threatened wildlife. We should be looking for ways to improve it, not weaken it.”
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