Groups Fight to Save the Endangered Species Act

December 19, 2008



Last Minute Bush Rule Changes Threaten American Wildlife
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Dec. 16, 2008) –  Environmentalists are fighting to protect the Endangered Species Act regulations from last-minute changes by the Bush administration that will dramatically weaken and limit the use of the landmark wildlife protection law, according to legal experts and scientists.
The Bush plan has been roundly panned for eliminating science from federal agency decision making and ignoring objections from hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens across the country.
In an effort to maintain protection for wildlife, a coalition of groups filed suit today to halt the last-minute rules.
The suit claims that the Bush rule changes are illegal and expose America’s most vulnerable plants and animals to new threats by allowing federal agencies to self-consult about potential project impacts on endangered species. In a major break from typical national environmental policy, no environmental impact statement has been conducted
Though the changes were announced last week, the final language was not published until Tuesday morning. After reviewing the changes, the groups’ fears were realized regarding the changes. The suit was filed in the Northern District of California. Earthjustice is representing the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, Conservation Northwest, The Humane Society of the United States, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), and the Institute for Fisheries Resources. NRDC will also be co-counsel with Earthjustice.
 “We’ve gone to court over this issue before, we’re doing so now and we’ll continue to do so until the proper protections are in place for wildlife in peril,” said Janette Brimmer, attorney for Earthjustice. “Requiring compliance with the Endangered Species Act only part of the time is not what was intended when Congress originally passed the ESA. These new set of rules are not in compliance with the original law.” 
“The Endangered Species Act is the cornerstone of our country’s environmental laws and the rule-changes in question run roughshod over its basic mandate,” said Andrew Wetzler, director of NRDC’s Endangered Species Program. “If the Bush administration thinks that the green groups and the general public will just step aside they are tone-deaf and wrong.”
“When it comes to protecting wildlife, we should listen to the scientists who spend their lives studying these animals. If they say global warming is the biggest threat to polar bears, then we should do what it takes to eliminate that threat,” said Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope. “These rules would be a lasting reminder of all of the disdain for science and political trumping of expertise that have characterized the Bush Administration’s efforts to dismantle fundamental environmental laws.”
“This last ditch effort to gut the nation’s strongest wildlife-protection law is patently illegal, and will not succeed,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel of animal protection litigation and research for The Humane Society of the United States.  “The party is over for these kinds of conservation rollbacks, and it’s time to start talking about strengthening our commitments to the protection of endangered species.”
Contact:  Josh Mogerman, NRDC at 312/780-7424 (office) or 773/853-5384 (mobile)
       Janette Brimmer, Earthjustice at 206/343-7340 (office) or 206/ 290-3749 (mobile)
       Kristina Johnson, Sierra Club at 415/977-5619 (office) or 541/914-9744
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.
The Sierra Club was founded by John Muir in 1892 with a mission to explore, enjoy and protect the planet. It is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the nation’s largest animal protection organization – backed by nearly 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20037
Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty
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