we don't need no stinkin' badgers
...or grizzlies, or eagles, or any of that shit.
Bears, birds and other creatures could be put at greater risk under proposed Bush administration changes to the Endangered Species Act, according to a U.S. government document released on Tuesday by environmentalists.
The proposed rewrite to the landmark law that protects American wildlife would weaken the act so much that about 80 percent of the 1,300 species now on the endangered list would lose protection, said Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity.
"Efforts to restore the California condor into new states would be stopped under these regulations," Suckling said in a telephone interview from Tucson, Arizona. "Efforts to reintroduce grizzly bears to new areas would be stopped ... This suite of regulations rewrites the Endangered Species Act from top to bottom."
Hugh Vickery, a spokesman for the Interior Department, which helps administer the act, said the document was "very obsolete" and "does not represent the latest thinking" of the administration on this issue. He said any formal proposal would be published in the Federal Register and debated publicly.
But Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice, said notations in the document -- available online at http://www.peer.org/docs/doi/07_27_3_permits.pdf -- indicate changes made as recently as mid-February.
"If this is no longer the thing that they are working on, it's clear that they were working on it very, very recently," Hasselman said by telephone from Seattle.
This slash and burn of the ESA was originally laid at the feet of Dick Pombo, late of Congress and recent of oil interests, but this was pretty much in the pipeline after Shrub was sworn in that ugly day (and I mean that literally - it was a shitty day) back in 2001.
The big problem really is that the Dems - rural and Western Dems, if the last time ESA changes were up for vote is any indication - are absolutely horrible on this too: there's either a fundamental misunderstanding of or a frightening antipathy towards critical habitat, probably the most important component of the act after listing.