Brown sues Bush administration over Endangered Species Act

Legal News Line Dec. 30, 2008, 11:48pm


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown filed suit in federal court on Monday to block the Bush administration's latest attempts to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

Brown wants the court to mandate scientific review of federal agency decisions that could pose a threat to endangered species and their habitat.

"The Bush Administration is seeking to gut the Endangered Species Act on its way out the door," Brown said. "This is an audacious attempt to circumvent a time-tested statute that for 35 years has required scientific review of proposed federal agency decisions that affect wildlife."

The Bush administration's new regulations were made final on Dec,. 16, according to a press release issued by the attorney general's office. They largely eliminate the scientific requirements related to the Endangered Species Act.

Brown said the changes allow federal agencies to permit or participate in mining, logging and other commercial activities on federal land without obtaining a scientific impact review on the environmental implications from federal wildlife biologists.

Decisions regarding the environmental impact will be left up to the specific project proponents, according to the attorney general's office, organizations Brown believes lack the scientific experience and expertise to make such evaluations.

The attorney general's office said the new regulations are the most significant changes to the Endangered Species Act in more than two decades.

Deputy Attorney General Tara Meuller wrote in an Oct. 14 letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife that "the attorney general views it as nothing short of astonishing that such are being proposed by the very expert agencies that are designated by statute to provide scientific oversight of the consultations process to ensure protection of imperiled species and their habitat."

California's lawsuit follows three similar lawsuits filed earlier by environmental groups, the press release stated.

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