Eviscerating the Endangered Species Act - George Bush Doesn't Think You're Looking (or maybe just doesn't care anymore)

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Department of Interior Officials are pushing to ease endangered species rules before president Bush leaves office.

Endangered Species act may be gutted of Bush and Department of Interior get their way

The proposal would prohibit consideration of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as exclude advice from federal biologists regarding how dams, power plants, oil and gas development, highways, and other federal projects might harm species. In other words, barring anything that might actually endanger species from being considered for inclusion in the endangered species act.

How, well, Bushian can it get?

In an underhanded attempt to get the Draconian measure through without attracting attention or thoughtful consideration, the Department of Interior will attempt to review 200,000 comments from the public (mine among them) by the end of business tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 24). A team of 15 people were summoned to Washington to begin work on the task last Tuesday, giving them 32 hours to review 200,000 comments.

Lets do the math:

With 15 people given 32 hours to review 200,000 comments from concerned American citizens, the team will need to review 6,250 comments per hour. Each team member is required to review a minimum of 7 reviews per minute – spending an average of nine seconds (or less) per comment. If the reviewer needs a potty break all bets are off.

So how much consideration do I suppose my comment will be getting?

Whoops – You missed it.

What’s the rush for a process that normally takes months? At the direction of Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the ridiculously short time frame for comment review was made so his office can sign off on the proposal and get it through by the November 1st deadline set by the Bush administration for all final regulations. Kempothorne has hoped to have only 30 days for public comment, but under protest was forced to extend the comment period to 60 days, which ended last Friday. Thus, the push by Kempthorne to get ‘er done under the reign of George Bush.

Bush wants it, and Kempthorne aims on delivering.

Nonetheless, the whole thing may be an illegal, as well as unethical, exercise in subverting the idea of representative government, according to a post by Andrew Wetzler in NRDC’s Switchboard.

If Bush and Kempthorne get their way, the measure will become final before the new president takes office. The new administration can freeze any pending rules, but if the regulation becomes final it would require doing the entire comment and review process over – a process that, when done right, will take months and has even taken years.

Obama has already stated he will reverse the proposal. The McCain campaign has not taken a position on the matter.

Contact the Department of Interior and let them know what you think! (oh, the irony…)

Tags: engangered+species+act, dirk+kemthorne, department+of+interior

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