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Obama Restores Help for Endangered Species

Obama Restores Help for Endangered Species

It’s good to know that scientists have been invited back to the government’s decision making table. After years of being ignored by the Bush Administration (think snowmobiles in Yellowstone despite Park Service findings that they are harmful to wildlife and air quality), it appears government scientists are already getting some well-deserved respect from the Obama Administration.

At The Wilderness Society, our scientists have been cheered by administration pledges to bring science back. And already, the new administration has shown a number of promising signs that it’s offering more than lip service to the restoration of science in policy decisions affecting the environment and wildlife.

For example, in January, Obama bought some time to more fully review protection of grey wolves in the Rockies by staying a Bush attempt to remove federal protection. In February, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced the rescinding of land leases for oil shale development until more thought can be put into the large amounts of energy and water required to develop this dirty fuel.

Then on March 3, Obama reversed an eleventh hour Bush regulation that pulled the teeth from the Endangered Species Act.

The undermining Bush regulation–one of many disturbing environmental rollbacks of his lame duck era—ended requirements for federal agencies to consult independent scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service when planning projects that could affect critical habitat for species, such as the construction of a road through a forest.

The Bush move was passed off as an assist to “interagency cooperation,” which sounds ok on paper, but the reality is that it gave federal agencies with limited ecological expertise the ability to determine if projects they had a stake in could move forward. It was equivalent to letting hurried airline passengers bypass security; while they might arrive at the gate faster, I’m not so sure I would want to be on that plane.

The Bush regulation also had global warming implications in that it took away the government’s ability to consider a project’s greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on habitat. So, under the Bush regs for example, federal agencies would not have to consider the destructive effects of pollution on the icy habitat that polar bears and walruses depend on for survival.

Now, with Obama’s reversal of the regulation, federal scientists will rightfully regain their voice, and the nation will be better advised about activities that further imperil plant and animal species struggling to survive.

What a relief to see this bad idea reversed and the power of science restored.

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By Laura Bailey

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11 comments

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9:09AM PDT on Mar 10, 2009

Obama can talk the talk but I am still alittle....well lets just say I am watching just how he is walking the walk and for how long. Sorry but history shows that all Presidents start out strong on issues but then....time will tell. I only hope it will not be to late for the animals.

12:05PM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

It's great to know that we now have a President who actually cares about our Country's endangered species!! Yeah, GO OBAMA!!!

10:15AM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

I can't imagine how Bush sleeps at night. Hurray for some common sense and compassion in the White House! Finally!!

8:28AM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

What amazing changes and hope Obama brings to this country. We are so proud of him and his stance on environmental issues. For a while there we were worried that the Bush's of this world would take us down with them. I can't believe how badly Bush damaged this country in so many different ways!

7:29AM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

All Hail to President Obama from the UK folk who were desperate to see him elected!! He is a breath of fresh air, a man of principle!! So far our faith in him for the causes we campaign for has not been shattered.....keep going President Obama....your strength of will and reversal of your predecessor's bad policies can only do our beautiful planet the world of good!!!

7:09AM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

There is light at the end of the tunnel--just when everyone was ready to give up hope!! We need to make our environment and its animals as much as a priority as growth--we can't grow as a people or a culture without embracing the earth and it's diverse species. Human beings in the past have not been growing in love but growing in greed and corruption. Now is the time to change that to bring about a positive "Yes we can" future !!!

7:09AM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

The world will become a better place with President Obama leading the USA......I just hope he's not too late.....
Imagine if every country had a man equal to him.....
what a wonderful world it would be......

7:08AM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

There is light at the end of the tunnel--just when everyone was ready to give up hope!! We need to make our environment and its animals as much as a priority as growth--we can't grow as a people or a culture without embracing the earth and it's diverse species. Human beings in the past have not been growing in love but growing in greed and corruption. Now is the time to change that to bring about a positive "Yes we can" future !!!

7:00AM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

This IS hopeful and one can only be excited about this progressive attitude!

3:30AM PDT on Mar 9, 2009

This man is fantastic! Everything i've heard of him doing so far as US President has made sense, been progressive and thoughtful and of use to the world. What a refreshing change. He gives me hope!

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