Friday, January 16, 2009

Enjoying the pre-dawn light

My favorite time of the day has long been right after sunset or right before sunrise. It's just something about the light and colors in the sky. I don't really witness the sun rising much, which probably makes the pre-dawn time all that more special. And though I right this at the end of the day, I can't help but have that happy feeling that comes from experiencing a pre-dawn show. I think yesterday was a good day for endangered species and it contained the promise of lots more to come.

Two things happened yesterday worth mentioning here. First, Chairman Rahall (WV-03), along with 12 colleagues, introduced a resolution (H. J. Res 18) to overturn the Bush Administration's new regulations that reduce the oversight of federally-approved projects by our fish and wildlife agencies. There is, of course, a long road ahead for a resolution such as this to achieve the President's signature, but it signals yet another opportunity to put an end to these miserable changes.

Second, Interior Secretary-Designee Ken Salazar, promised to restore scientific integrity to the Interior Department. It occurred at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In his opening statement, in response to a question from Senator Wyden – who continues to show strong leadership in identifying and correcting the corrupting actions of former Bush administration officials – and in a back and forth with another Senator, Senator Salazar repeatedly recognized the necessity for the best science to be used in endangered species determinations. Now, part of me does say that I shouldn't get too excited by this. After all, that's what the law requires. But the day before, the Bush Administration said gray wolves in the Norther Rockies were fully recovered and should be removed from the endangered species list, despite the fact that they themselves admit that the population isn't large enough to sustain itself naturally and that they will permanently have to manage the wolves by occasionally trucking some around to provide genetic diversity. So, in times of darkness such as this, a rededication to the law and the use of science is sadly, but incredibly refreshing.

Now, I am not one to think that life is going to be great and all our work will be done once President Obama is sworn in and Secretary Salazar gets the keys to 500 million acres or so of public land. I actually think we have many tough fights in store. But I also expect that we'll get to have those fights in the light of day and that is an improvement.

p.s. today, seven states are expected to join California in litigation as yet another means to stop the Bush administration's efforts to reduce endangered species safeguards.