New regs (maybe) and big news on the Endangered Species Act, from coast to coast
It has been a big week for Endangered Species Act news.
On the national front, the Bush administration continues to race the clock, and Scientific American expect new "midnight regulations" to be adopted changing the ESA consultation process in the waning days of the outgoing administration -- despite the 200,000 public comments in opposition. The Washington Post further notes that the proposed rule means that federal agencies "would not have to take global warming into account when assessing risks to imperiled plants and animals." The AP reports, however, that Congress "could reverse the rules through the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows review of new federal regulations. But The Oregonian reports that "administration officials said Thursday they do not plan to finalize revisions."
Meanwhile, ESA news coverage included other stories from coast to coast.
Photo of sea turtle at Breakers Reef from the South Florida Dive Journal.
In Florida, the federal government announced critical habitat for the endangered smalltooth sawfish. See CBD press release. But Floridians also got a reminder that the ESA cannot stop criminal activity, and the Palm Beach Post reported that a "huge swath of stunning corals" at the Breakers Reef in Palm Beach County was "shaved from the ocean floor." The reef is home to staghorn and elkhorn coral, threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Far to the North, an accidental lynx killing is being investigated in Maine, see Foster's Daily Democrat, and new restrictions are in place for fishermen in the region to protect recently spotted right whales. See The Ellsworth American.
On the Pacific Coast, a California Trout report entitled “SOS: California’s Native Fish Crisis.” suggests that 65 percent of California’s native salmon, steelhead and trout species will be extinct within 100 years. Extinction could come even sooner for the endangered delta smelt, but the Fresno Bee reported that U.S. District Court Judge Wanger rejected an effort by environmentalists to cancel long-term contracts for regional water districts that get water from the Central Valley water projects. According to the news reports, "Wanger's ruling said that it would be pointless to renegotiate the contracts to help the smelt, because the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation already has the ability to stop water deliveries to the affected districts to satisfy requirements of the Endangered Species Act."
Agricultural interests in the Pacific Northwest were less pleased with a recent NOAA decision: a National Marine Fisheries Service biological opinion addressed the effects malathion, chlorpyrifos and diazonin have on salmon species in parts of Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho. See Capital Press and Yakima Herald. And also in the region, the federal government, the state of California, the state of Oregon and the PacifiCorp electric utility Thursday announced an Agreement in Principle that would remove four dams on the Klamath River, re-opening 300 miles of habitat for salmon runs upstream to their spawning areas in the year 2020. See Environment News Service.