Interior Department official disparages endangered-species recommendations

If Julie MacDonald had a farm (e-i-e-i-o), all the animals would die. At least six times since 2004, MacDonald — deputy assistant secretary of the Interior Department — has rejected staff recommendations to protect susceptible flora and fauna under the Endangered Species Act, documents show. The Interior Department’s inspector general is looking into the role of MacDonald, a Bush appointee, who has admitted to overruling scientists’ conclusions and mocking employees’ suggestions. In one instance, when scientists indicated that a proposed road might hurt the habitat of the greater sage grouse, MacDonald wrote in the margin: “Has nothing to do with sage grouse. This belongs in a treatise on ‘Why roads are bad’?” Shockingly, MacDonald’s decisions have often benefited landowners or industry. The Bush administration has placed about 10 species a year on the list of threatened and endangered species, compared to 64 a year under President Clinton and 59 a year under President George H.W. Bush.

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