"fox in henhouse" plan of Bush: Environmentalist angry
The new propsed changes in rule regarding letting the US agencies decide for themselves whether their action put wildlife at risk is drawing heavy criticism from environmentalis.But the US department is saying that the new rule would cut bureaucratic red tape and free goverment scientists for more important work.
"This is exactly the fox guarding the henhouse," Michael Daulton of the National Audubon Society said. "It's a scary proposition to think about agencies with no wildlife expertise at all making decisions about the fate of species, potentially leading to extinction."
The 35-year-old Endangered Species Act is meant to protect threatened wildlife by relying on the best available science, the environmentalists noted. Government scientists must now consult with agencies on projects that could put species at risk.
The rules change could take scientists out of the equation, the conservation coalition maintained.
Audubon, which aims to protect birds, was among more than 120 groups that joined to flood the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service with 100,000 negative comments about the plan on Friday.
"This proposed rule change is obviously a Hail Mary pass to industry friends in the final days of the Bush administration and it will fail," said Janette Brimmer, a lawyer with Earthjustice.
A Hail Mary pass is a desperate last-minute play in American football.
At the heart of the matter is the notion of dropping a requirement for U.S. agencies -- from the Transportation Department to the Army Corps of Engineers -- to consult with scientists before they take on projects that could threaten wildlife on the Endangered Species list.
As the Interior and Commerce departments wrote in their plan, released in mid-August with little fanfare: "We propose to add language that action agencies are not required to consult on those actions for which they determine their action will have 'no effect' on listed species or critical habitat."