Obama Restores Scientific Review

Obama promised to strengthen Endangered Species Act protections.© www.whitehouse.gov

President Obama overturned an eleventh-hour Bush administration rule regarding the Endangered Species Act. Back in December, the Bush White House finalized regulations allowing agencies to decide for themselves—sans review by scientists from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm wildlife listed as threatened or endangered by the federal government.

Billed as a way to streamline development requests in a faltering economy, the Bush-era rule reduced the mandatory independent scientific reviews otherwise required for construction within habitat zones of endangered species across the country. In overturning the new rule last week, Obama underscored the importance of protecting endangered species via the Endangered Species Act: "We should be looking for ways to improve it, not weaken it."

Of course, greens welcomed the news. "Obama has swiftly delivered on his campaign promise to reverse Bush’s anti-endangered species regulations," said Kieran Suckling of the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. "He has restored independent, scientific oversight to the heart of the Endangered Species Act." Suckling’s organization had filed suit against the Bush administration in an attempt to overturn the eleventh-hour rule via the courts.

Sources: Center for Biological Diversity; MSNBC