Bush administration reinterprets Endangered Species Act

The Bush administration has quietly issued a new spin on the Endangered Species Act that would have the feds protect imperiled animals and plants only in places where they’re in trouble — not where they’re thriving or have already disappeared. A memo announcing the change was posted on the Interior Department website on Friday. The Center for Biological Diversity threatened to pursue the issue in court, saying the new policy could mean 80 percent of some 1,300 species now listed under the act would lose protection. “Say I’m an irrigator,” said CBD’s Kieran Suckling. “Say there are 10 fish in a stream. … I’m going to go kill those 10 fish. Now they are part of the historical range, not the current range. It doesn’t count.” In more uplifting news, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said on Friday that the feds will look into whether some species should be listed as threatened or endangered because of climate change. Oddly enough, he failed to mention the ESA memo. So forgetful, that one.

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