April 28, 2009
Leda Huta, Executive Director, (202) 320-6467
Jon Hunter, Policy Director, (202) 476-0669�
Endangered Species Protections Restored
Washington DC - Today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the restoration of rules under the Endangered Species Act that help protect endangered species when government decisions or projects are implemented. The rules were weakened in the final days of the Bush administration.
"The restoration of these protections is incredible news for our country's wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction. By undoing this rule, President Obama is helping species pull back from the brink of extinction," said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "Secretary Salazar and Secretary Locke are renewing hope for our nation's disappearing wildlife and last remaining wild places."
Their decision requires federal agencies to once again consult with federal wildlife experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before taking any action that may affect threatened or endangered species. The action will restore an important check-and-balance system that enables government projects to move forward and at the same time protect at-risk species.
"Making this decision within the first 100 days of office is an important symbol that America will once again respect science and environmental protections," continued Huta. "We are incredibly grateful to President Obama, Secretary Locke and Secretary Salazar for their leadership on addressing the urgent environmental issues of species extinction and global warming."
Congress granted the Obama administration a special 60-day period to repeal two last-minute Bush administration rule changes, including the one in today's announcement. The other rule under consideration restricts protections for the polar bear. Secretary Salazar has until May 10th to use the congressional authority to expedite the repeal of the polar bear rule.
Letters urging the administration to restore the endangered species protections have been signed by dozens of members of the U.S. House and Senate; 133 science and conservation organizations; and 1,301 scientists. In addition, approximately 150,000 citizens have signed petitions or sent e-mails to the administration.