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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 10-29-2008, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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End of Term Attacks on Wildlife

Some info on a couple of attempts by this administration to further weaken environmental laws and remove protections that give YOU your say in wildlife laws.

The first is here:
Speed-Reading at Interior

Published: October 25, 2008

In its closing months, the Bush administration is pulling out all the stops in its eight-year effort to undermine the Endangered Species Act. In mid-August, the administration proposed two dangerous regulatory changes. One would free the government from considering the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on polar bears and other imperiled wildlife. The other would eliminate some expert scientific reviews of federal projects that could harm endangered species. Under the law, such proposed rules changes must be opened for public comment before they take effect. The idea, at least the way we have always understood it, is for the government to listen to what citizens are saying before making important policy changes.

Americans are clearly concerned about these new proposals: the agency received 300,000 comments. Last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service, presumably at the behest of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, summoned 15 employees from their field offices to Washington to read the comments.

We are delighted that the secretary wanted them read. Unfortunately, the employees were given less than a week to do so. If you assume an eight-hour workday, that means the group was zipping through somewhere north of 7,000 comments an hour.

Why so fast? The White House has imposed a Nov. 1 deadline for finalizing all of the regulatory changes it wants to make before Mr. Bush leaves office.

This rush job is, obviously, a travesty of the public comment process. It affirms what the Interior Department has so often demonstrated during the past eight years: the public’s input counts for little, whether on snowmobiles in Yellowstone or public lands management or, especially, on the endangered species law.

We are confident that both Barack Obama and John McCain would be more sensitive to environmental matters. The unfortunate part is that while it has taken only months for Mr. Bush and Mr. Kempthorne to weaken important protections, it could take years for the next president to restore them.
...and then here:
Last-Minute Mischief

Published: October 17, 2008

All presidents indulge in end-of-the-term environmental rule-making, partly to tie up bureaucratic loose ends but mainly to lock in policies that their successor will be hard pressed to reverse. President Bill Clinton’s midnight regulations were mostly good, including a rule protecting 60 million acres of national forests from road-building and most commercial development. Not surprisingly, most of President Bush’s proposals are not.

Exhibit A is a set of six resource management plans covering 11 million acres of federal land in Utah. They would open millions of acres to oil and gas drilling and off-road vehicles, risking priceless cultural artifacts and some of the most breathtaking open spaces in America. The plans, each more than 1,000 pages, were dumped on an unsuspecting public in the last few weeks by the Bureau of Land Management.

The bureau claims that it wasn’t trying to pull a fast one and that drafts were available months ago. But the final documents are what count. The public now has only a few short weeks to register objections before the secretary of the interior makes them final.

Why the rush? The agency says it had to wrap things up before it ran out of planning money. What we are really seeing, though, is the last gasp of the Cheney drill-now, drill-everywhere energy strategy; one last favor to the oil and gas drillers and the off-road vehicle enthusiasts before a more conservation-minded president (both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have far better records than Mr. Bush) comes to town.

Environmentalists are also suspicious of the Interior Department’s recent proposal to revoke a longstanding if rarely used regulation that gives Congress and the interior secretary emergency powers to protect public lands when commercial development seems to pose immediate environmental dangers.

Dirk Kempthorne, the interior secretary, decided that the rule was unnecessary after Representative Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and about 20 other members of the House Natural Resources Committee ordered him to withdraw about 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining claims to give officials time to assess potential damage to the air and water.

Arguing that the committee did not have a quorum and that he had other means of guarding against damage, Mr. Kempthorne not only refused to obey the committee’s order but proposed to rescind the departmental rule requiring him to obey it. The public has been given 15 days to comment, after which Mr. Kempthorne will be free to jettison the rule.

Mr. Kempthorne is also pressing ahead with plans to scale back important protections required by the Endangered Species Act by eliminating some mandatory scientific reviews by the Fish and Wildlife Service of federal projects that could threaten imperiled animals and plants.

The new rule — which could be made final at any moment — would allow projects like roads, bridges and dams to proceed without review if the agency in charge decides they would cause no environmental harm. The National Audubon Society and other groups have compiled an extensive list of cases in which the agencies misjudged the threat and Fish and Wildlife Service scientists had to intervene to protect the species.

Some of the administration’s recent regulations have been helpful — one tightening pollution controls on small engines like lawnmowers, another tightening lead emissions. But others could cause serious and lasting damage. And there are still three nerve-racking months to go before Mr. Bush leaves office.
I don't care who you support for the next president, ...Just Vote!
No matter who wins, they CAN'T be any worse than this one in they way they are treating the environment.


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