Sunday, April 19, 2009

Salazar Needs To Decide on Endangered Species Act

As a followup to my earlier post, it was announced late last week that U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he will make a decision in the coming weeks on whether to overturn a controversial Bush administration regulation that limits the reach of the Endangered Species Act.

The outgoing Bush administration finalized a rule in December that allows federal agencies to issue permits for mining, logging and other activities without consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service about endangered wildlife and plants.

In March, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum that put the regulation on hold pending a review. Action would need to be taken before a May 9 deadline.

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians have sent more than 72,000 petitions to Salazar, urging him to overturn the Bush "midnight rules." A specific rule of concern is one that overturns the precedent of the past 35 years and makes consultation on endangered species optional rather than mandatory.

Speaking before a group at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, Salazar told them that energy and climate change will be the most difficult issues facing the nation's leaders in the years to come. The event was to celebrate the recent signing of a large public lands bill that sets aside millions of acres in several states as wilderness.

In support of the Bush changes are business and industry groups that argue that the consultation process results in delays and higher costs for projects, including those that will be funded by federal stimulus money.

As always, if you are concerned with this issue, write your Representative in Congress and write your Senators. A few letters from constituents go a long way because most of us are silent on issues - so be heard!

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