Obama Suspends Bush Rule on Endangered Species


The New York Times
Green Inc.
by Kate Galbraith

President Obama today asked federal agencies to consult with wildlife biologists over decisions that may affect threatened or endangered species.

The memorandum effectively suspends a December 2008 rule issued by the Bush administration, which waived requirements that agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers consult with experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service when undertaking projects like building dams.

Today’s decision did not throw out the Bush administration rule, which had prompted lawsuits from California and a number of environmental groups. Instead, Mr. Obama asked that the secretaries of commerce and the interior “review” the Bush regulation and determine whether new rules are needed.

“Until such a review is completed,” Mr. Obama wrote, “I request the heads of all agencies to exercise their discretion, under the new regulation, to follow the prior longstanding consultation and concurrence practices” involving the Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Sierra Club reacted with unmitigated joy.

“These midnight regulations represented all the disdain for science and political trumping of expertise that characterized the Bush administration’s efforts to dismantle fundamental environmental laws,” said Carl Pope, the Club’s executive director, in a statement.

“Our wildlife are clearly in much better hands now,” he continued. “President Obama is bringing science back into decision-making.”

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