August 26, 2008

Bush Endangered Species Plan Criticized

The Bush administration's proposal to reinterpret the Endangered Species Act is being criticized by the Ecological Society of America.

The group particularly objected in a Tuesday press release to Bush plans announced Aug. 15 to eliminate requirements for federal projects to undergo independent scientific review. New procedures would allow federal agencies to decide for themselves whether their projects would harm endangered plants and animals.

"The concept of independent scientific review has been in practice since the 18th century and is crucial to ensuring that ideas and proposed work are scientifically sound," said Alison Power, president of the society. "This overhaul of the Endangered Species Act would place the fate of rare species in the hands of government stakeholders who are not qualified to assess the environmental impacts of their activities."

The Bush proposal would present a conflict of interest, erasing the distinction between scientific review and politics, concluded the Society, noting the threat to more than 2000 of the United States' rarest plants and animals ranging from green sea turtles to Santa Cruz cypress trees.