Friday, August 15, 2008

U.S. Chamber Applauds DOI Endangered Species Act Proposal

[Subscribers & Readers Please Note: WIMS will be on break for the next two weeks. We'll be back on Tuesday, September 2, 2008. Have a safe and enjoyable end of summer and we'll be reporting to you again on September 2.]

Aug 14: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce commended Interior (DOI) Secretary Dick Kempthorne’s proposed rule changes to clarify the use of the consultation process surrounding the application of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to the literally thousands of federal actions that may be subject to consultation under the Act [See WIMS 8/12/08]. William Kovacs, Chamber Vice President for Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs said, “1986 was the last time the relationship between ESA and the consultation process was discussed and the world was not then discussing the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. Since then some have argued that any federal action anywhere has the potential to generate greenhouse gases and therefore, the consultation process should be applied to every federal action. That is just a ridiculous concept that would literally paralyze the ability of the federal government to move forward with projects."

“To address this huge bureaucratic nightmare and gross waste of federal resources, the Secretary is providing clear guidance to his agency as to when the Endangered Species Act consultation process must be used. By mandating that it must be used when the potential impacts are reasonable likely to occur but not requiring it when the potential impacts are unlikely, the Secretary has made a commonsense decision that greatly assists Department staff on the use of precious federal resources.

“Every year the federal government issues over 4000 new regulations that join the already existing 102,000 regulations. Within this massive regulatory maze of complex and costly mandates, it is reassuring to find someone in Washington willing to exercise commonsense. By making this clear distinction between the use of consultations for reasonably likely impacts but not mandating consultations in situations where impact is unlikely, the Secretary is bringing efficiency and rationality to the rulemaking process.”

Most major environmental and conservation organizations expressed outrage at Kempthorne's proposal. They said the Bush Administration plans to rollback protections for America’s imperiled wildlife by re-writing the ESA regulations which "would weaken the safety net of habitat protections that have helped protect and recover endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years."

On August 11, Kempthorne announced the proposal which he called "common-sense modifications" to the existing ESA regulations. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register today [73 FR 47868-47875, 8/15/08]. Comments on the proposal are due by September 15, 2008. [Note: An earlier draft of the proposal had included a 60-day comment period; however, it has been reduced to 30-days.]

Access a release from the U.S. Chamber (
click here). Access the docket for the proposed rulemaking for the proposed rule and to submit and review comments (click here). [*Wildlife, *Climate]

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