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Turning Back the Clock on Midnight: Obama and Endangered Species

March 5, 2009

The clock has been turned back on some 11th hour moves by the Bush administration. Florida environmental groups are celebrating a new ruling from Washington that could protect the 114 endangered species in Florida, including the Florida panther.

President Obama has reversed a last-minute rule change by the Bush administration that some say gutted the Endangered Species Act. Bush had taken the scientists out of the review process, allowing federal agencies to decide without consulting with wildlife experts whether their projects threatened species, explains David Guest, managing attorney for Earthjustice. He calls Bush's efforts illegal and ill-considered.

"This pulls the plug on a cynical and underhanded effort by the Bush administration to substitute phony science for real science. "

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is attempting to stop Obama from repealing Bush's last-minute policy changes, calling it a possible backdoor move to regulating carbon emissions. However, Obama says the rules should be set through an involved dialogue among different agencies.

Guest complains that Bush gave the decision-making power to agencies with no knowledge of wildlife, and with a built-in conflict of interest.

"You wouldn't want the Fish and Wildlife Service biologists designing bridges, and similarly you don't want bridge engineers deciding whether an endangered species is going to be destroyed by one of their projects."

Guest says this is an indication that the Obama administration plans to put scientists back in the process.

"Science will be respected by this administration and will not be subject to political machinations by non-scientists. It's great news on every front."

More information is available at

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL