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For Immediate Release, March 3, 2009

Contact: Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960

President Obama Issues Presidential Memorandum Rescinding Bush
Administration Regulations That Weakened the Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.— President Obama issued a memorandum today rescinding rules allowing federal agencies to avoid consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Services over their impacts on endangered species.

“This is welcome news for endangered species,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Obama has restored independent, scientific oversight to the heart of the Endangered Species Act.”

The Bush administration rules exempted thousands of federal activities, including those that generate greenhouse gases, from review under the Endangered Species Act by allowing federal agencies to determine themselves whether their actions were likely to adversely affect endangered species and thus whether they needed scientific review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries services.

“Obama’s move today puts expert scientists back in the driver’s seat for management of the nation’s endangered species,” said Suckling. “Obama has acted swiftly to meet an important campaign promise and show that he puts science and endangered species before politics.”

Although an essential first step, more action may be needed by the administration to fully rescind the rules, including a new rulemaking or action by Congress. The Senate is currently considering an Omnibus Appropriations Bill from the House that would allow the Obama administration, with the stroke of a pen, to rescind both the rule covered by today’s memorandum and a special rule for the polar bear that exempted greenhouse gas emissions and oil development, the two leading threats to the bears, from regulation under the Act.

“We are hopeful that the Senate will pass the Omnibus Appropriations bill and the Obama administration will fully rescind both of these rules,” concluded Suckling.

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