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Endangered Species Need Your Help

POLAR BEAR

The polar bear was recently listed as a
threatened species due to the climate
change-induced loss of its sea ice habitat.
Steven Morello

The public comment period for this issue has closed. WWF thanks everyone who submitted comments. Learn about other actions that you can take.

Deadline: October 15, 2008

The Bush administration is proposing changes that would seriously weaken the Endangered Species Act. Please oppose these changes.

The most effective way to comment is by submitting an official public comment to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You must submit your comment yourself. Follow the simple steps below.

1. Prepare your comment. Copy the draft comment text, shown below, into your word processing system. Make changes and add your own thoughts if you wish (this increases your impact). Add your name and address.

2. Submit your comment. You can either

* Mail your comment to:

Public Comment Processing
Attention: 1018-AT50
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 North Fairfax Drive
Suite 222
Arlington, VA 22203
  

-OR-

* Cut and paste your comment into the official government comment webform.

Note: When you submit a public comment, your entire comment—including your
personal identifying information—may be made publicly available by the federal government at any time.

DRAFT COMMENT TEXT

As someone very concerned about leaving our children a living planet, I oppose the recent proposed regulations, [FWS-R9-ES-2008-0093] and [0808011023-81048-01], regarding implementation of the Endangered Species Act. I urge that they be rescinded.

The proposal is a one-two punch into the heart of the Endangered Species Act. It exempts a potentially huge number of federal projects from review by conservation experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service and then limits the projects that still are subject to review to a narrower set of impacts.

The proposed rule will allow the fox to guard the hen house because federal agencies interested in their own missions will now be the ones making Endangered Species Act determinations. These staff often do not have expertise in species conservation. In addition, the back and forth that often resulted in decisions that balanced species conservation concerns with the need for the proposed projects will be gone. Further, letting each agency make its own determinations will reduce clarity, consistency, transparency and accountability.

The proposed rule also narrows the definition of impacts in a way that appears intended to ensure that the Endangered Species Act cannot be used to consider climate change impacts on listed species. This short-sighted change undermines the goal of the act to preserve species no matter what the threat facing them. 

I also object to the unusually short time period allowed for public comment on the proposed regulations and urge that it be extended to at least 90 days.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment and to leave behind a legacy of protecting endangered species and the special places they call home. Therefore, these proposed regulations should be withdrawn.

Sincerely,

[Add your name and address here]

DO MORE

Urge your members of Congress to oppose the damaging endangered species regulations. 

Send an e-card urging your friends to take action.

MORE INFORMATION

The Bush administration has proposed changes that would seriously weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The administration’s plan would limit the role of the two federal agencies that are responsible for implementing the ESA, and that are the government’s experts on species conservation--the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. 

Specifically, the proposed changes eliminate the requirement that those agencies sign off on the initial threshold analysis of impacts of any proposed federal project that affects a threatened or endangered species, or the critical habitat on which those species depend. This means that for federal involvement in dams, mines, grazing permits, forestry activities, irrigation, dredging, and fishing, it is the federal agencies approving or funding the activity that are the ones making the initial determination about whether the impact of their proposed projects would harm species listed as threatened or endangered, or their habitat.

But these agencies have a vested interest in promoting their activities, not in protecting species; and very few of them have relevant biological expertise in making such important determinations. The administration’s proposed rule puts the fox in charge of the hen house, with these hens on the verge of extinction.

In addition, the proposed rule narrows what impacts might be considered during project review.  Impacts driven by many different actions, such as climate change, would be out of scope for consideration. This short-sighted change undermines the goal of the Endangered Species Act to preserve species no matter what the threat facing them. 

The administration can make these changes without congressional review and approval and is rushing the proposal through with an unusually short public comment period. 

The Endangered Species Act is the most important tool our nation has for protecting imperiled wildlife and maintaining biological diversity. Enacted in 1973 by President Richard Nixon, the law has protected many iconic wildlife species, including the bald eagle, gray wolf, California sea otter, American alligator, gray whale, and black-footed ferret. It is a strong, effective, and flexible science-based “safety net” for imperiled species and is used as a model by other countries struggling to protect their own endangered wildlife. 

WWF supporters helped fend off an attempt by Congress several years ago to rewrite and weaken the Endangered Species Act. With your help, we can stop this misguided administration proposal as well.  Together, we can ensure that the world our children inherit will be home to a diversity of creatures.  Thank you for speaking out.

Federal Register notice of the proposed regulations.

How the Endangered Species Act works.