ESA can’t help protect species from climate change, Bush admin argues
The Endangered Species Act can’t be used to spur regulation of specific sources of greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States, according to new memos outlining the Bush administration’s legal arguments on the matter. One of the memos, from a top Interior Department lawyer, reasons that since it can’t be proved that greenhouse-gas emissions from a specific source have an impact on endangered species, federal agencies don’t need to consult government wildlife experts about a specific project’s impacts. Another memo concludes that even the cumulative effects of climate change on an endangered species “are of no relevance” under the Endangered Species Act, even if greenhouse gases overall are, say, melting a species habitat. The public comment period on another similar (and similarly unpopular) ESA rule change ended Tuesday, attracting over 100,000 comments in opposition. That rule change would let federal agencies opt out of consulting with government wildlife experts when studying the environmental impacts of major projects such as timber sales or dams. “The rules are overbroad, rushed, and possibly illegal,” said University of California at Berkeley professor Eric Biber.