Okay, so maybe it is not a surprise at all, to any of us. Yesterday, Secretary Kempthorne announced that federal projects, such as road, mines, and dams, won't be required to be reviewed by wildlife biologists at the U.S. FWS or NOAA. This move creates a huge chink in the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act.
Agencies such as the Department of Transportation are simply not equipped to decide for themselves if their projects may harm wildlife. And, that is not their mission. In fact, some may view their mission as somewhat contrary: providing "a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system." As we all know, highways and wildlife don't always go so well together.
We held a press briefing yesterday with a number of leaders of environmental organizations and the media to discuss this issue. As Jamie Clark, Executive VP of Defenders of Wildlife stated on the call, the system of requiring federal agencies to consult with the experts about impacts to wildlife has worked for three decades. It isn't broken. For more on what we had to say to the press, see our joint press release.
Clearly, what is broken is Bush's Department of Interior. The need for a great new Secretary of Interior couldn't be higher. Our wildlife depends on it.
For those of you interested in the legal details of this new regulation, you can view it on the Department of Interior's website.