Let’s unbury this story from its grave in the holiday weekend press.

Yesterday, The New York Times reported on a leaked draft of legislation that would effectively gut the Endangered Species Act. The proposed law was prepared by the Republican staff of the House Resources Committee, led by Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.), who’s long opposed the ESA.

The Times’ Felicity Barringer writes:

The draft legislation was given to The New York Times by a lawmaker opposed to its provisions, who requested anonymity because the legislation had not yet been introduced. It has been circulating among interest groups focused on the issue, which tends to pit environmental groups against a loose coalition of Western ranchers, farmers and business interests. Most lobbyists believe that the committee’s legislation will provide the framework for rewriting and reauthorizing the act.

Coincidentally, The Christian Science Monitor ran an in-depth look at the ESA on June 28. Although the article doesn’t include the jounalistic drama of “leaked draft legislation,” it’s a good overview of the politics swirling around the ESA, which are even more complicated than Western governors vs. Beltway green groups now that religious groups are take a stake in species conservation:

“You can expect to hear from many people of faith as they witness with passion and resolve about the importance of protecting endangered species,” Dorothy Boorse told a recent congressional committee. Dr. Boorse teaches biology at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., and is an evangelical Christian active with the Noah Alliance, a coalition of religious groups that support species protections.