Monday, October 27, 2008

10 Day Comment Period On Controversial ESA EA

Oct 24: The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, Services) previously proposed to amend regulations governing interagency cooperation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act) (73 FR 47868-47875; August 15, 2008). The Services indicate that it "proposed these regulatory changes to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the section 7(a)(2) consultation process.

The Services have now issued a Federal Register notice [73 FR 63667-63668] providing notice of a Draft Environmental Assessment (Draft EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that assesses the potential environmental effects of the proposed regulatory changes currently under consideration. The services are requesting comments be submitted by November 6, 2008.

John Kostyack, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) said of the original August 15th proposal, “I have been working on the Endangered Species Act for 15 years and have never seen such a sneaky attack. To suggest that our nation's most important wildlife law could be gutted after a mere 60 day written comment period is the height of arrogance and disrespect for wildlife science. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said, “The proposed regulations are an absolute disaster for the nation’s endangered species." [
See WIMS 8/12/08].

On October 23, in response to reports that the Services were attempting to review 300,000 public comments on the ESA changes in just four days, Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, sent a letter to the director of the FWS asking him to stop the “reckless” process. Markey said in a release that, "The proposed rule changes would undermine the Section 7 consultation requirements in the Act and exclude global warming emissions as a consideration for listing animals like polar bears under ESA, even though global warming has been recognized by the Bush administration as a main cause for listing the bear as threatened under ESA earlier this year."

Markey said, "Predictably, the Bush administration is trying to ram through anti-environmental laws in its final days in office, and this is yet another example of their agenda. Attempting to read hundreds of thousands of public comments in a matter of hours is odd given that the Bush administration budget has never contained any money for speed reading classes. After taking years to make a decision on the polar bear and other Endangered Species Act listings, the Bush administration is now taking hours to completely roll back key protections in this cornerstone of our environmental laws.”

Access the latest 10/24/08 Draft EA announcement (
click here). Access the DOI website on this action with links to the Draft EA, two appendices and related information (click here). Access the docket for the rulemaking to review and submit comments and access documents (click here). Access the release and letter to FWS from Representative Markey (click here). [*Wildlife]