In his last days as President, George Bush is trying to ram through sweeping changes to the 35 year-old Endangered Species Act that will essentially gut protections for dwindling species. The proposal would hand decisions on potential dangers to wildlife and ecosystems over to the agencies in charge of implementing new development projects, a complete hen-in-the-chicken-coop move. Especially given a recent ethics investigation that discovered Interior Department employees cavorting with the oil company representatives they buy Gulf oil leases from--having sex with them, smoking pot and doing coke with them, accepting thousands of dollars worth of gifts from them.
And these are the people that are supposed to look at a new drilling project, a new dam, new roads, a new mine and decide if it will endanger threatened species--people with a vested interest in getting their project going, people who have traditionally chafed over US Fish and Wildlife reviews, people with no expertise whatever in wildlife or biology.
This week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has been hammering the Administration on this and a slew of other environmental travesties wreaked over the last years. Let's hope they exert enough pressure on the Interior Department to force them to withdraw this unconscionable proposal.
Read my syndicated editorial for more info.