Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar just announced the full restoration of the Endangered Species Act. This is good news not only for our country's many threatened species and their habitat but also for scientific integrity. On its way out the door, the Bush administration bulldozed through rulemaking protocol and effectively eliminated Section 7 from the Act. This is the section that mandates independent scientific review for any project proposed by a government agency. By eliminating this section, the authority to determine how a project would affect an endangered species would be not in the hands of the expert biologists at US Fish and Wildlife or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but rather in the hands of those who are proposing the project. So essentially the Department of Transportation would be able to determine if the highway that they really want to build would negatively impact any endangered species. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see the glaring conflict of interest.
In the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Congress authorized the Secretaries to make such a decision and revoke the rule change. Today, on President Obama's 99th day in office, the Secretaries have used that authority and reversed one of the most notorious of Bush's numerous midnight regulations. Common sense has triumphed and science has finally been restored to policy.
Read Sierra Club's press release.