Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said late Monday the changes were needed to ensure that the Endangered Species Act would not be used as a "back door" to regulate the gases blamed for global warming. In May, the polar bear became the first species declared as threatened because of climate change. Warming temperatures are expected to melt the sea ice the bear depends on for survival.The draft rules would bar federal agencies from assessing the emissions from projects that contribute to global warming and its effect on species and habitats. (AP report via Treehugger)
I'm sure you've heard the palpable alarm from around the blogosphere. Just checkin' to make sure you know how to comment, 'cause the Bush administration (surprise!) is going to make it as difficult as possible by shutting down email comments. Luckily, the NRDC Action Fund's outraged and will submit your comments via paper (or mule, or whatever else the Bush admin demands) if you click here to take you to a simple form letter to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne (took me 10 seconds to personalize):
I strongly oppose your recently announced plan to weaken protections for threatened and endangered wildlife. The Endangered Species Act is our nation's strongest law for protecting wildlife. Its purpose is to ensure that imperiled plants and animals never reach extinction while protecting the habitat on which they depend. This simply won't be possible with the reduced protections outlined in your new plan.Thanks to Burbanmom and Green Bean Dreams who have been urging me to comment. Three weeks left in the comment period. Hope I can motivate one other lazy late summer slacker!
Wildlife protection should be carried out by trained wildlife professionals. But your proposed plan would transfer that responsibility to agencies with no such knowledge or expertise. Furthermore, some agencies' interests could be directly at odds with the well-being of endangered species. By eliminating or reducing the consultation processes long embedded in the law, the proposed plan removes essential safeguards, including independent scientific review. In essence, the plan replaces science with politics.
Environmental protection is a top concern for most Americans. As such, our government should be doing more, not less, to protect endangered wildlife and their habitat. I urge you not to formalize these proposed plans, which would weaken the Endangered Species Act.
In addition, I am very concerned that the Department of Interior is only allowing 30 days for the public to comment on these dramatic changes to the way the Endangered Species Act is implemented. I urge you to extend the comment period to at least 90 days and to hold public hearings on the proposal throughout the United States.