Endangered Species Act?
Is the Endangered Species Act itself endangered? So asks Greg Laden yesterday, feeding off of the expose published in Salon, the online "ezine." For any of you unfamiliar with Salon, you can read free if you are willing to endure a brief advertising flash presentation.
The take home message from both the Salon piece and Greg's post is that the Bush administration has gradually purged the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service of its most passionate scientists and reined in those remaining scientists who are still actually committed to the preservation of endangered species. Salon obtained an internal 117-page draft proposal to rewrite the Endangered Species Act so as limit the number of species that can be protected and curtail the acres of wildlife habitat to be preserved. The draft rewrite would also shift authority to enforce the act from the federal government to the states, and dilute legal barriers that protect habitat from sprawl, logging or mining. Fearing just such an expose,
...the Fish and Wildlife Service went to extraordinary efforts to keep drafts of regulatory changes from the public. All copies of the working document were given a number corresponding to a person, so that leaked copies could be traced to that individual. An e-mail sent in March from an assistant regional director at the Fish and Wildlife Service to agency staff, asking for comments on and corrections to the first draft, underscored the concern with secrecy: "Please Keep close hold for now. Dale [Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] does not want this stuff leaking out to stir up discontent based on speculation."1
1 Clarren, Rebecca, 2007, Inside the secretive plan to gut the Endangered Species Act, Salon, March 27th.