Bush Administration Says It Will Delay Some Drilling

On Monday, the Interior Department announced that it may delay some oil and gas drilling projects on federal lands until their effects on wildlife can be more adequately studied. This seemingly sharp break with the accelerated leasing of public land in the past few years came, according to the agency, in response to American Wildlife Conservation Partners, a coalition of groups including Ducks Unlimited and the National Rifle Association. “We value them because we think they’re the experts on wildlife,” said Assistant Interior Secretary Rebecca Watson. The policy will apply to 262 million acres managed by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. Enviros, you won’t be surprised to hear, were skeptical about both the timing (ahem, election season) and the targeted beneficiaries (ahem, swing voters) of the announcement. The Wilderness Society contends that the restrictions in the fine print of the new policy, and the reams of paperwork required of land managers, render it almost meaningless.