Who Needs Owls When You've Got No Rules?

Bush administration still slicing at environmental protections

Devils River Minnow: Classified as
Devils River Minnow: Classified as "threatened." No kidding. (Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

While much of the media seems to be contemplating letting the Bush administration limp off quacking into the history books, it's worth remembering that Dubya, Cheney et al., still have plenty of chances to wreck the last sad ghosts of environmental regulation before they disappear back into private business.

The Associated Press has got hold of draft rule changes that would basically gut the Endangered Species Act. If accepted, federal agencies with sterling records on environmental protection like the Department of the Interior and the Commerce Department wouldn't even have to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service before rubberstamping construction projects that could drive endangered species to extinction. Oh, and departments wouldn't be allowed to take that pesky global warming thing into account. And, of course, rule changes don't require congressional approval.

Not that anyone should have been looking for Fish and Wildlife to save the day: They've just announced that, rather than follow their original 2007 proposal to classify 45.7 miles of Texas rivers as protected habitat for the Devil's River Minnow, they're only giving them 16.5 miles, none of which includes any stretches of Devil's River. Meanwhile, the Northern Spotted Owl has had the amount of federal forest land classified as critical habitat cut by 23%. Well, fair enough, since their population is falling by 4% per year. Pesky endangered species, not going extinct fast enough.

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Bush, Environment, Northern Spotted Owl, Devils River Minnow, Endangered Species Act, Fish and Wildlife Service

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