Inspector General Report: ESA Under Fire

NWF: "Political appointees not entitled to manipulate facts to arrive at a predetermined outcome."

12-16-2008 // John Kostyack

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Department of Interior Inspector General has issued a new report on political interference in Endangered Species Act implementation under the Bush administration.

John Kostyack, National Wildlife Federation executive director of wildlife conservation and global warming, said today:

"As the inspector general makes clear, Julie MacDonald, Craig Manson, Randal Bowman and Thomas Graf interfered extensively in Endangered Species Act decisions, always with the purpose of helping out industries regulated by the Endangered Species Act and weakening species protections. Their impact went well beyond the decisions where they had first-hand involvement. The inspector general found that Fish and Wildlife Service staffers were denying protections to species on the assumption that providing such protections as required by law would not be tolerated by the political folks.

"Although the inspector general's report focuses on listing and critical habitat determinations and the role of just a handful of political appointees, it provides a road map for needed reform of the entire endangered species program. This report shows that new policies are desperately needed to guide the Fish and Wildlife Service in its Endangered Species Act decision-making and to shield biologists and economists from political interference in their expert analyses.

"Political appointees are entitled to make policy judgments based on the facts presented; they are not entitled to manipulate those facts to arrive at a predetermined outcome."

***

For Immediate Release
December 16, 2008

Contact:
John Kostyack, Executive Director, Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming, National Wildlife Federation, kostyack@nwf.org


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