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The Bald Eagle’s Poor Cousins July 4, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in Business & Society, Environment, Government, Politics, The Bush Administration.

The removal of the bald eagle from the endangered species list has been in the news a lot recently. However, the state of the agency tasked with managing the list and protecting endangered species seems pretty endangered itself. As noted in the L.A. Times it’s budget is being slashed, positions are left unstaffed and what passed for an assistant secretary of the interior who was in charge of it had the competence and integrity so common among Bush administration appointees. The article notes at one point that

Meanwhile, the endangered-species staff is rife with in-fighting, according to a report last month by the Interior Department’s inspector general. And recovery programs, listing decisions and efforts to remove wildlife from existing protections have been heavily influenced by Bush appointees with close ties to industries that have contested the law.

Julie A. MacDonald, a deputy assistant secretary of the Interior who oversaw the endangered-species program, resigned last month after the inspector general found that she had ordered scientists to change their findings, and shared internal documents with lobbyists for agricultural and energy interests.

Somehow this reminds me of the Administration’s approach to global warming. The current head of the program,  Bryan Arroyo, defends the approach that he takes as a loyal Bush employee. He says it’s more effective to work with industry. You can’t affect the economy for the sake of protecting an endangered species is what he seems to be saying. What’s interesting about his claims about the superiority of his approach is that the only example he gives is from his days in Texas. Couldn’t he think of a success story at the federal level of the superior approach he espouses?

I know that lots of people, myself included, wonder about some of what happens because of a species being declared endangered. Aren’t they going too far in thinking that all species, especially those with extremely limited habitats should stop all development? Sometimes they are reasonable doubts. But I worry more right now about the pendulum going too far the other way when 54 out of 58 species added to the list during the Bush administration were only added because of the government being sued. It is true that a reasonable balance should be struck. I just don’t trust anyone that the current Administration might appoint to do that.



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