Interior and Commerce Secretaries restore vital safeguards for endangered species
Bush-era consultation rule thrown out(04/28/2009) - WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce announced that they are formally withdrawing a decision by the Bush administration that overturned a consultation process (Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act) that has successfully helped to safeguard threatened and endangered species for more than 20 years.
However, the Department of the Interior has not yet decided how it will address another Bush administration ESA decision: the Section 4(d) rule that limits protection for threatened polar bears by declaring that safeguards against “incidental take” – death or harm to polar bears or their sea ice habitat caused by human activities such as oil and gas development – do not apply at all outside of the polar bear’s current range in the U.S.
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 Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke listened to the concerns expressed by members of Congress, dozens of organizations, hundreds of biologists and tens of thousands of citizens. Congress gave the Secretaries the extraordinary authority to overturn this terrible regulation, and restore a consultation process that has worked well for decades. Secretaries Salazar and Locke recognized the vital importance of consultation to endangered species protections, and we’re very pleased that he’s taken action to restore the integrity of the Endangered Species Act.
“Secretary Salazar should also take the opportunity offered by Congress to reverse the Bush administration’s 11th hour rule which denies polar bears important protection under the Endangered Species Act. The polar bear 4(d) rule exempts activities causing global warming from ever being considered a violation of the Endangered Species Act. This makes no sense, given that the principal threat to polar bears is the melting of their Arctic sea ice habitat due to global warming. Secretary Salazar should revoke this rule as well - the polar bear is running out of time.”
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