The Bush administration announced plans today to propose a change in the regulations under Endangered Species Act to eliminate the requirement for consultation with federal biologists on projects that could affect imperiled animals and plants. The proposal would allow action agencies to decide for themselves whether projects they permit or license might harm endangered species.
While details are still unknown, Audubon expects the proposal could be the most significant, detrimental change to the ESA program in years. According to news reports, the proposal will be subject to a very short, 30-day comment period, after it is published in the Federal Register. Audubon will be filing a letter with the Department of Interior protesting the short time period for comment and urging a substantial extension of the comment period. Audubon's activists will also mobilize to resist the change.
The strongest federal safeguard against the extinction of bird species in the United States is the ESA. Enacted in 1973, the ESA has helped save some of America's most critically imperiled birds and wildlife, including species like the Bald Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, the Gray Wolf, the Grizzly Bear, and the Whooping Crane.