Opposing the Bush Administration attempt to weaken the Endangered Species Act

We sent out an Urgent Alert to supporters over the weekend, asking them to contact the Bush Administration and announce their opposition to proposed rules that would weaken the Endangered Species Act. We contacted the Interior Department as well, and wrote the following.

The Committee for Green Foothills represents over a thousand families in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in its mission of protecting open space and natural resources in those counties. We at the Committee oppose the proposed revisions to Section 7 consultations. These revisions will reduce the use of valuable expertise and bias evaluation of endangered species impacts against their actual import, as the action agencies will be inclined to downplay environmental impacts. For the above reasons, we oppose the proposed rule revisions.

Below is a copy of the Urgent Alert:

The endangered species of the Bay Area and of the rest of the country need your help. In its last months in office, the Bush Administration proposes to dramatically weaken the Endangered Species Act by letting federal agencies considering actions that harm species avoid consultation and oversight from with expert wildlife agencies. This reverses 30 years of federal regulation designed to restrain federal agencies whose mission and political culture is focused on other things besides protecting species. Please use the website below to submit a comment opposing the proposed changes. Comments must be submitted by Monday, September 15, to be considered.

What’s Happening

The Interior Department has proposed the change to limit “Section 7” consultations between federal agencies considering an action (“action agencies”) and the expert wildlife agencies (the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service).

Why This is Important

Contrary to Administration claims, the action agencies do not have the same level of expertise about effects on endangered species as the wildlife agencies. In addition, the action agencies inevitably prioritize achieving their main missions over endangered species so they will often interpret evidence in such a way as to reduce its significance. Locking out the agencies with the most expertise and the most interest in protecting species will mean more species will fall through the cracks.

What You Can Do

In another change to previous policy, the Interior Department refuses to accept emailed comments on its proposed rule, but it will accept comments submitted on a government website. Tell them you oppose the proposed new rule and that the Endangered Species Act should be strengthened, not weakened.

To submit the comments, click on this link:

http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=SubmitComment&o=09000064806c5826

You will need to fill out the submitter information at the top of the web page, and then at the bottom of the page you can inform them of your comment opposing the proposed rule.

For more information, see the Sierra Club’s Take Action webpage:

http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ProtecttheEndangeredSpeciesAct

Thanks for speaking up for our coastal wetlands and environmental protections! Your voice does make a difference!

– The folks at Committee for Green Foothills

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