I am including a bit more on the current end-run on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). I mentioned this issue in last week’s e-mail, which was generated in response to the proposed changes to the Act in the Federal Register.
The easiest way to respond to the ESA threat would be to sign the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD)petition here:
If you want to roll up your sleeves and take pen in hand, your written comments will have a more weighty impact.
Read through the CBD petition and respond in your own words. Send your letter to:
Public Comment Processing,
Division of Policy and Directives Management,
US Fish & Wildlife Service,
4401 North Fairfax Dr., Suite 222,
Arlington, VA 22203
The comments attached below were sent out by the Institute for Fisheries Resources and gives a good overview of the situation as well as more resources to find out more and respond.
Changes to the ESA will seriously compromise how the public and conservation groups can respond to proposed threats to the environment, making all of our work more difficult, at the expense of the planet.
Thanks for your concern and interest!
14:13/01. ESA SHENANIGANS AND UPDATES: The Bush Administration is still proposing replacing current Sec. 7 federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations on the impacts of federal projects on ESA-listed species, now conducted with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), with “self-consultations” within each agency, most of which do not have similar biological expertise (see Sublegals 14:12/01). Several members of Congress have accused the Administration of simply trying to cut the independent scientific agencies out of the process in order to put ESA compliance determinations directly into the hands of each agency’s political appointees, who would be inclined to approve their own agencies’ projects, as well as rushing through the minimum possible public comment period with the intent of adopting these new rules regardless of public or Congressional opposition before the end of this Administration. Once adopted, with this Congress nearing adjournment, it may take months for the next Congress to undo their enactment.
On 21 August, a joint letter was sent to Secretary of Interior Kempthorne and Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez from more than 100 national and regional conservation and fisheries organization (including PCFFA) asking for at least 90 days for public comments, instead of the very short 30 days now scheduled, as well as public hearings. Letters from House Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall along with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell and House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) also called for at least an additional 30 days for public comment and public hearings.
On the Senate side, Senate Environment Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer urged the Secretaries to suspend further action on the controversial rule altogether, or if they choose not to do so, to provide the public six months to scrutinize the proposal, which means the final decision would rest with the next President. Senator Boxer also promised to hold Congressional hearings on the proposals in the Senate Environment Committee on 24 September. Congressional member protest letters over the rules are circulating in both Congressional chambers now, but with Congress in recess until Sept. 4th, Congressional efforts to stop the rule changes have been slowed.
The Center for Biological Diversity has a new web site devoted to information on the new proposed ESA changes at: www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/esa_in_peril/index.html. A 22 August story by Associated Press on the requests by more than 100 groups and many members of Congress for additional time for public responses and regional hearings on these sweeping new rules is at: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hkF1lWZoKQaqIgrv4XHs4RAorcQgD92NHQMG6. A similar article appears in Environmental News Service Newswire on 21 August at: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2008/2008-08-21-092.asp.
The proposal was published on 15 August in 73 Federal Register 47868-47875. Federal Register notices can be downloaded from http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html. Written comments are due by 15 September by US mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comment Processing, Attn: 1018-AT50, Division of Policy and Directives Management, US Fish & Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Dr., Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203. Faxes and email comments will not be accepted.