Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fox, henhouse. Henhouse, fox.

One of the really cool things about government is that, although Congress passes laws, it's up to the executive branch (read BushCorp™) to implement those laws.

The various agencies do this by implementing regulations which are not subject to Congressional approval, unless Congress is paying attention, which, you may have noticed, hasn't happened for the last six years.

So it is with the Interior Department which is revamping its rules regarding endangered species. You'll not be hugely surprised that the proposed regulations now being floated are cleverly desighned to make it harder to classify new species as endangered, and to be generally more friendly to a variety of business interests. has the scoop:

March 27, 2007 | The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is maneuvering to fundamentally weaken the Endangered Species Act, its strategy laid out in an internal 117-page draft proposal obtained by Salon. The proposed changes limit the number of species that can be protected and curtail the acres of wildlife habitat to be preserved. It shifts authority to enforce the act from the federal government to the states, and it dilutes legal barriers that protect habitat from sprawl, logging or mining.

"The proposed changes fundamentally gut the intent of the Endangered Species Act," says Jan Hasselman, a Seattle attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, who helped Salon interpret the proposal. "This is a no-holds-barred end run around one of America's most popular environmental protections. If these regulations stand up, the act will no longer provide a safety net for animals and plants on the brink of extinction."

Read the article for the whole dreadful story. But you'll not be surprised that the agency was trying to keep this whole sad affair secret. Guess they heard about the November elections, even if the Justice Department didn't.

But meanwhile suspicions that Fish and Wildlife is shilling for commercial interests has recently been confirmed by the NY Times.

WASHINGTON, March 28 — A top-ranking official overseeing the Fish and Wildlife Service at the Interior Department rode roughshod over agency scientists, and decisions made on her watch may not survive court challenges, investigators within the Interior Department have found.

Their report, sent to Congress this week by the department’s inspector general, does not accuse the official, Julie A. MacDonald, the deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, of any crime. But it does find that she violated federal rules when she sent internal agency documents to industry lobbyists.

Ms. MacDonald, an engineer by training, has provoked complaints from some wildlife biologists and lawyers in the agency for aggressive advocacy for industries’ views of the science that underlies agency decisions. The words of more than a dozen high-ranking career employees, from Interior Department headquarters and regional offices in California and Oregon, who are quoted usually by title in the report, describe a manager determined to see that agency findings and the underlying science conform with policy goals.

Stop me if you heard this before. A Bush appointee turns out to be a party hack whose sole interest is in intra-agency shilling for Bush's corporate masters and much more concerned about pursuing Bush ideology than about actual science or, you know, the public good.

The story of BushCorp™ writ over and over again.

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