Bush’s “Biggest Overhaul” Of Endangered Species Act Is Nothing

August 19, 2008

Such ado about nothing! Every environmental group and left wing media outlet in the world is up in arms over President Bush’s and the Department of Interior’s announcement that they are planning to change the consultation process to determine if a proposed development would be harmful to an endangered species and provide clarity of such.

I suppose because of the hatred of Bush and the resulting distrust, most people really are over reacting to this announcement. The Department of Interior put out a piece that they hoped would dispel some of the myths being circulated by the press. In that release, DOI explains that the Endangered Species Act does not define the consultation process but charges the executive branch of government to make that determination.

The Act does not define consultation or what triggers it. Congress left the crafting of the consultation process to the executive branch. The proposed regulations provide clarity to federal agencies as to when and how they are required to enter into a consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or NOAA Fisheries.

As I see it, the only change that is being suggested in an altering of the process, is that the responsibility from adhering to the law is placed squarely on the “action agencies” and not the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directly, something intended to speed up the process.

Some believe this is a process to circumvent any consultation with federal scientists in making determinations. It helps to spell out more precisely when further help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service is needed.

The Act contains provisions that create a huge incentive for federal agencies to make the correct determination. If an action results in death or harm to a listed species – what is known in the law as “take” — the agency and its officials could be subject to civil and criminal penalties. Additionally, the Act’s citizen suit provision creates a very real incentive for agencies to act in accord with the law.
Federal action agencies are well aware that taking a listed species is not lawful without an incidental take statement that can only be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or NOAA Fisheries through formal consultation. Agencies are unlikely to engage in activities they know will take listed species without this legal protection. (emphasis added)

So for those lawsuit happy environmentalist still determined to rule the world via the destruction of man, you’re “sugar daddy” is still there waiting for you. Nothing to get alarmed about.

I’m not so sure this change of consultation is a good thing. The Congress created the Endangered Species Act, they have allowed it to remain pretty much status quo, resulting in billions of dollars wasted in lawsuits, administration and enforcement, they ought to continue accepting all the responsibility for it no matter at what level of government it falls.

Until Congress is willing to get down to serious business and gut the Endangered Species Act, rewriting in such a way that it actually closely resembles a law aimed at protecting species and not destroying our rights and ability to prosper, the Bush administration shouldn’t be passing the buck.

If the environmentalists are getting so worked up over a change that amounts to nothing, what would they do if somebody suggested they actually adhere to the law of the Act itself?

Tom Remington


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