Conservation Groups File Suit To Restore Endangered Species Act Protections

"Top political appointees were intent on cutting a gaping hole in the Endangered Species Act, and opening up sensitive habitats for development activities, before leaving office."

12-18-2008 // NWF Media Team

The National Wildlife Federation, 13 of its affiliates, and Golden Gate Audubon filed suit today challenging the Bush administration's regulations weakening the consultation requirements of the Endangered Species Act. According to the lawsuit, the Bush administration's regulations drastically reduce protections for America's imperiled plants, fish and wildlife and are in direct violation of the administration's duties under the Endangered Species Act.

"The Bush administration rushed these regulations through in record time," said John Kostyack, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming at the National Wildlife Federation. "Top political appointees were intent on cutting a gaping hole in the Endangered Species Act, and opening up sensitive habitats for development activities, before leaving office."

The new regulations virtually eliminate independent scientific review under the Endangered Species Act. Until now, federal agencies have been required to consult with expert biologists at the Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service to determine whether projects pose any harm to imperiled wildlife. Under the new rule, federal agencies will be able to unilaterally determine if actions, such as building a highway or filling in a wetland, will adversely affect endangered species. Most federal agencies have neither the expertise nor the incentive to thoroughly scrutinize their own projects' impact on wildlife.

The new regulations also prohibit scientists from addressing the impacts of global warming on imperiled wildlife. "Global warming is a leading threat to the survival of many wildlife species and to the ecosystems on which both people and wildlife depend," said Kostyack. "Federal agencies should be protecting wildlife from global warming--telling them to ignore the impacts of global warming on wildlife is exactly the wrong message."

Joining the National Wildlife Federation on the suit are Golden Gate Audubon, Planning and Conservation League, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Nevada Wildlife Federation, Kansas Wildlife Federation, Conservation Council for Hawaii, Indiana Wildlife Federation, and the Florida Wildlife Federation.

National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

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