IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The Obama administration has undone Bush’s rule that weakens the Endangered Species Act — but not the rule harming the warming-threatened polar bear . . . and time is running out. Take action before our clock strikes zero. Then read about our delivery of 90,000 petitions to Secretary Ken Salazar on Capitol Hill in April.
SAVE THE ACT, SAVE SPECIES FROM THE CLIMATE CRISIS
Just before leaving office, the Bush administration dealt a parting punch to endangered species across the nation, issuing two regulations intended to (1) remove the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an independent, scientific watchdog over potentially species-harming federal projects like timber sales, mines, and dams; (2) exempt all greenhouse gas-emitting projects, including coal-fired power plants and federal fuel efficiency standards, from Endangered Species Act review; and (3) specifically ban federal agencies from protecting the imperiled polar bear from greenhouse gas emissions. These policies would eviscerate the central Endangered Species Act process — Fish and Wildlife Service oversight — that has protected endangered species for 35 years, and they would exclude the greatest future threat to endangered species — global warming — from consideration under the Act. The policies drew lawsuits by the Center, other environmental groups, and nine states.
Thankfully, on April 28, 2009 — the very same day the Center delivered more than 90,000 petitions (later to become 94,000) to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting he take action fast — Salazar rescinded the rule blocking Fish and Wildlife Service oversight under the Endangered Species Act. This came after the Obama administration and Congress had promptly taken the first steps toward revoking both damaging Bush regulations: On March 3, President Barack Obama sent out a presidential memorandum ordering agencies to ignore the Endangered Species Act rule, and on March 11, he signed into law an omnibus appropriations bill giving Salazar 60 days to rescind both the Endangered Species Act rule and the polar bear rule with the stroke of a pen. Between the day Salazar was given the power to rescind the rules and the day he restored the Endangered Species Act, he was called upon to save both the Act and the polar bear by 41 members of the House of Representatives; eight senators; 35 members of the California legislature; more than 13,000 scientists; numerous law professors; and more than 200,000 citizens represented by more than 130 conservation organizations.
Unfortunately, in a key omission, Secretary Salazar failed to rescind the rule dooming polar bears to extinction — and he has only until May 9 to do it. That’s why it is so urgent to take action today: Please let Salazar know that you want him to throw out the Bush rule weakening protections for the iconic white bear of the melting Arctic.
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