U.S. Interior considering revamp of Endangered Species Act, draft shows

Last week, a U.S. Interior Department memo quietly changed where endangered species are protected. Now it seems the feds have been giving the Endangered Species Act an even broader rethink. A leaked draft shows that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has toyed with shifting significant ESA powers to states and allowing activities that imperil species if they don’t “hasten the rate of extinction.” It may also change the ESA timeframe — species are now eligible if they face extinction in “the foreseeable future,” but that could be cut to 20 years or 10 generations. “It’s a radical weakening of the Endangered Species Act,” says Daniel Patterson of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity calls it “a rewrite from top to bottom” that “makes recovery of species impossible.” While Fish and Wildlife spokesfolks insist plans are still evolving, an anonymous federal employee told Salon that many staffers think the draft is daft.