Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Endangered Species Act ENDANGERED!!!

Image from open photo

First, apologies to anyone who has came across my blog recently and has seen no updates since March. I have been very busy with writing manuscripts, attending national meetings, conducting research and working on my other blog, which focuses on that research.
Unfortunately there has been so much environmental news lately, it is hard to keep up. But one thing that really "grinds my gears" is the lame duck administration and its blatant attempt to decimate the Endangered Species Act, by making proposing major rule changes in which aimed at bypassing "the review process for construction projects, such as highways, dams, and mines. Currently, under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies must consult with scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine whether a project is likely to affect any of the 1,353 animal and plant species listed as endangered or threatened.

The draft rules, which do not need to be approved by Congress but are subject to a 30-day public-comment period, would let each agency decide for itself whether a project would harm listed species." See the CSMonitor for the full article by following this link.

Well you can imagine I was none to happy to hear about this and immediately sent emails to both of my US Senators, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, and got responses back from each, agreeing that the administration is wrong in this new ESA draft and that they will do everything in their power to make sure this does not happen.
This is Senator Schumer's response:
Dear Mr. Carroll:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concern over recent proposals to change the regulations for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA is an invaluable tool for protecting endangered animals, habitats, and the overall health of our environment. I am committed to protecting this vital law and will work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that these potentially disastrous proposals are not enacted.

Since it was enacted in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has protected hundreds of species from extinction. Scientists and conservationists have credited the ESA with restoring the populations of species as diverse as the bald eagle, the gray whale, the Hawaiian goose, and the San Clemente Indian paintbrush. Perhaps the most striking example of the ESA’s success is the story of the Big Bend gambusia, a two-inch fresh-water fish that lives only in Texas. At its lowest point, there were only a few dozen individuals surviving. Today, Big Bend National Park has more than 50,000 of these fish living in the wild.

Conservationists point out that the Endangered Species Act protects not just the endangered species it covers, but many other species, too. The ESA requires the government to protect species’ habitats, which means that when a single species is listed as endangered, its whole ecosystem is protected.

One of the most important provisions in the ESA is the requirement that federal agencies consult with the wildlife experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) before undertaking major actions which might affect endangered wildlife. Under regulations that have been in place since 1986, FWS and NMFS have the discretion to determine when and if another agency needs to consult them.

Despite nearly four decades of success protecting wildlife, the Administration has proposed changing the ESA regulations on consultation. The changes allow other agencies to decide when to consult the wildlife experts, instead of leaving the decision up to the FWS or NMFS. As many experts have warned, this leaves the fox to guard the henhouse. Conservation experts have said that this will lead to more environmentally damaging activities. Lawyers have also pointed out that making these changes will probably lead to more lawsuits, as courts are asked to enforce the protections that used to be left to the FWS and NMFS. As a result of these changes, projects will become more expensive, take longer to complete, and prove more damaging to wildlife.

I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that ESA remains a powerful tool for protecting wildlife, wild places, and the environment as a whole. To date, there have not been any legislative proposals to block these regulatory changes, but I am closely watching this situation to find ways to protect ESA.

I am deeply committed to protecting the environment and endangered species. In the 110th Congress, I am a sponsor of the Climate Security Act and the Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act, the Clean Water Restoration Act, and the Beach Protection Act, and a bill which would permanently ban drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I have also pushed to increase funding for important domestic and international conservation programs, including the Wildlife Refuge system; the Land and Water Conservation Fund; and international conservation funds, such as the Great Apes Conservation Fund, the Rhinoceros Conservation Fund, the Tiger Conservation Fund, and the Wildlife Without Borders regional program.

Protecting the environment is an important responsibility, one which I take very seriously and I will continue to make this, and other, environmental issues a top priority in the Senate.

Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can ever be of assistance to you on this or any other matter.


Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator

Please do not respond to this email. To send another message please visit my website at http://schumer.senate.gov/SchumerWebsite/contact/webform.cfm . Thank you.

Now, normally, this would be enough for me, but the real troubling thing is this election season, especially with the newfound infatuation with Gov Palin's nomination to the GOP ticket. The real puzzling thing is how much her nomination has bumped up McCain in the polls. I mean I know the environment is not the number 1 issue with anyone in either party, but her environmental track record is atrocious, and at least should be aired to a more broad audience than it already is. This article illustrates her opposition to any scientifically based arguments for environmental policy, her pro-aerial wolf hunting policies, among other things. In the coming weeks, I will try to illustrate the environmental track records of all parties involved.