Bush administration leaves a stained legacy on environmental issues
Weakened protections for wildlife and public lands should be reversed(12/11/2008) - WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is using its waning days to finalize regulations that undermine safeguards for wildlife and natural resources and to build a barrier against Congressional and public challenges to these regulatory changes, according to testimony delivered to Congress on Thursday.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife, testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming regarding the Bush administration’s assault on environmental laws and the need for the next administration to reverse the damage.
“Given the magnitude of unprecedented challenges that the incoming administration of President-elect Obama and the Congress will face on the economy and foreign policy, this hearing is an important means of ensuring that we do not lose track of the pressing needs created by the Bush administration’s assault on key rules that have guided this nation’s stewardship of our endangered species and public lands,” said Clark.
Clark noted a number of attacks on the Endangered Species Act (ESA),
• A proposal to eliminate the requirement that federal agencies consult with wildlife biologists on the impacts their projects might have on endangered species;
• Barring consideration of the impacts on endangered species from actions that contribute to global warming; and
• A radical new interpretation of the ESA that could allow species protections to be drawn along political lines such as state boundaries, rather than along biological imperatives.
Clark also noted a number of other damaging proposals and actions by the Bush
• The last-minute repackaging of a “deeply flawed” rule removing ESA protections from gray wolves in the Northern Rockies;
• A rule accompanying the polar bear listing under the ESA that effectively prevents the listing from offering polar bears any meaningful additional protection;
• Opening areas of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to development of oil shale, the very worst fuel source in terms of greenhouse gas emissions;
• Opening millions of acres of land in Utah for oil and gas drilling near Arches National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, and Canyonlands National Park, as well as in areas critical to wildlife and near Native American archaeological sites; and
• Eliminating any and all Congressional authority to withdraw federal land parcels from planned developments like oil drilling or uranium mining.
It will be up to the incoming Obama administration to “erase the stained natural resources legacy of the Bush administration,” Clark said.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals
and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members
and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative
solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For
more information, visit www.defenders.org.
Contact(s):Cat Lazaroff, 202-772-3270