During remarks at the Department of the Interior today, President Obama announced he was signing a memorandum to “help restore the scientific process to its rightful place at the heart of the Endangered Species Act.” The memorandum, which the White House sent out this afternoon, reverses a move made by the Bush administration in December.
Audubon decried the Bush rule as most significant, detrimental change to the Endangered Species Act in years. Last December, Audubon urged then President-elect Obama to take this action.
The Bush rule eliminated the requirement for consultation with federal biologists on projects that could affect imperiled animals and plants. The plan allowed action agencies (e.g. the Department of Transportation) to decide for themselves whether projects they permit or license might harm endangered species.
During the public comment period, Audubon submitted a 12-page analysis examining the federal government’s own data and specific examples from around the nation, leading Audubon to conclude the proposal was “based on false assumptions, unsupported by data, and was otherwise fatally flawed.”
The strongest federal safeguard against the extinction of bird species in the United States is the ESA. Enacted in 1973, the ESA has helped save some of America’s most critically imperiled birds and wildlife, including species like the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, the gray wolf, the grizzly bear, and the whooping crane.