Great news – President Obama announced today a restoration of independent, outside reviews for how government projects and decisions impact endangered species. President Bush changed when these reviews are implemented with a set of new regulations that went into effects just five days before Barack Obama became President.
At a celebration for the Department of the Interior’s 160th anniversary, President Obama included this announcement:
Finally, today I've signed a memorandum that will help restore the scientific process to its rightful place at the heart of the Endangered Species Act, a process undermined by past administrations. The work of scientists and experts in my administration – including right here in the Interior Department -- will be respected. For more than three decades, the Endangered Species Act has successfully protected our nation's most threatened wildlife, and we should be looking for ways to improve it -- not weaken it.
Throughout our history, there's been a tension between those who've sought to conserve our natural resources for the benefit of future generations, and those who have sought to profit from these resources. But I'm here to tell you this is a false choice. With smart, sustainable policies, we can grow our economy today and preserve the environment for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. That is what we must do.
This change is a great first step, but some of the Bush Administration changes are still in place. Congress can help make it easier for the Obama Administration to finish the job with a provision in the omnibus spending bill being debated in the Senate this week. If you haven’t already, please contact your Senators and urge them to support protecting these provisions from amendments, which we are expecting to be offered in the next few days.