January 15, 2009

WASHINGTON – Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced a resolution (H.J. Res. 18)  that would overturn the Bush administration’s 11th hour attempt to undermine the Endangered Species Act. The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“I’m delighted that Chairman Rahall has introduced this resolution. These regulations were a last-ditch effort by a near-extinct administration to impose the same fate on America’s endangered species.

“The Bush administration wanted to let federal agencies in charge of building highways, dams and other projects decide whether those projects might drive rare plants and animals to extinction, without ever checking with the expert biologists in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. The Bush administration wanted to let the polar bear drown in a sea of inaction by preventing the Endangered Species Act from protecting the bears from the threat of global warming. Today, Chairman Rahall is taking action to stop this last environmental insult from the Bush administration.

“We hope that Congress will quickly pass this resolution, and show America that change has truly come for America’s rarest wildlife.”

Background:

First proposed by the Department of the Interior in August 2008, the Bush administration changes to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act would have eliminated the requirement that agencies seek advice from expert biologists with federal wildlife agencies in decisions about whether dams, towers, highways and other projects will likely harm imperiled species.

More than 250,000 comments opposing the changes were submitted to the Interior Department in the 60 days it allowed for the public to respond to the changes.

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