Friday, July 24, 2009

Endangered Species Act Scientific Consultation Process Under Review

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration overturned the Bush Administration's last-minute changes to the rules implementing consultations under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. When the Department of Interior repealed the rule changes in April, they initiated a public comment period to consider any new ideas for changes.

The scientific consultation provision requires federal agencies to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure that their actions don't harm endangered species or their habitat.

The consultation process has worked quite successfully since its implementation by the Reagan Administration in 1986. The current system has proven itself to be timely and is a major reason that 99 percent of listed species have successfully avoided extinction. An audit by the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service found that self-governed action agencies violate the Endangered Species Act 62 percent of the time. This clearly demonstrates that when expert agency scientists are removed from the consultation, accurate evaluations are unlikely to occur. Only the wildlife agencies have the personnel and expertise to evaluate the biological impacts of land use actions. Therefore, the federal government must maintain a strong oversight and a system of checks and balances to review federal projects that may have any negative impact on a protected species

Comments can be submitted at:
http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=SubmitComment&o=090000648097376f

The Endangered Species Coalition is circulating a petition to the Obama Administration supporting a strong Endangered Species Act.

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