Salazar and Locke Announce Repeal of Bush Administration Rules Changing Consultations under the Endangered Species Act
In a joint press release issued today, the Departments of Interior and Commerce announced a decision by Secretary Salazar and Secretary Locke to "Restore Scientific Consultations under the Endangered Species Act to Protect Species and their Habitats." The agencies explained that they were revoking an eleventh-hour Bush administration rule that changed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation process. Their decision requires federal agencies to once again consult with federal wildlife experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the two agencies that administer the ESA – before taking any action that may affect threatened or endangered species.
KEITHINKING: The decision represents a complete repudiation of the Bush Administration's efforts to alter the ESA consultation process, wholly repealing the rule, and exercising the authority granted by Congress, in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. However, as explained in earlier ESA blawg postings (see especially Aug 16, 2008 and Nov. 22, 2008 and Dec. 11, 2008), some modification of the Section 7 process may -- eventually -- be appropriate, and the joint press release also said that "the two departments will conduct a joint review of the 1986 consultation regulations to determine if any improvements should be proposed."