Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Updates on the ESA Revision

The NY Times picked up yesterday's story from Salon on proposed changes in enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. Today's coverage emphasizes that the new regulations are still subject to revision:

H. Dale Hall, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the Endangered Species Act, said Tuesday that the draft proposal detailing the changes was “really a beginning of a process.”

“It had all options on the table,” Mr. Hall said. “It really doesn’t represent anything that we support or don’t support.”
This statement was interesting:
The Endangered Species Act has long been attacked by property-rights groups, cattlemen, timber interests, developers, and mining and drilling companies, mostly in the West. Some environmentalists agree that its provisions can be unnecessarily cumbersome.
I wonder who those environmentalists are, and what their reasoning is. (And why are none of them cited?)

Coverage from Reuters has federal officials claiming that the leaked document is obsolete and does not represent current thinking. Whether the current thinking is better or worse remains unstated. Several sources quoted in the article not that the document cannot be that obsolete since it has changes from February 2007. Here are some potential implications:
The proposed rewrite to the landmark law that protects American wildlife would weaken the act so much that about 80 percent of the 1,300 species now on the endangered list would lose protection, said Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity.

"Efforts to restore the California condor into new states would be stopped under these regulations," Suckling said in a telephone interview from Tucson, Arizona. "Efforts to reintroduce grizzly bears to new areas would be stopped ... This suite of regulations rewrites the Endangered Species Act from top to bottom." reports that Congressional Democrats may use the 2008 appropriations bill to prevent the new regulations from being implemented.

The Center for Biological Diversity has also commented on the issue.

Here are the USFWS Endangered Species homepage, database of endangered species, and list of endangered birds.