Obama Restores Scientific Review to Endangered Species Act

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


President Obama issued a memorandum Tuesday requesting the heads of all federal agencies consult with scientists and other experts to determine if their actions could harm threatened and endangered species.

Consulting with experts at either the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was required by law under the Endangered Species Act until December, when the Bush Administration issued a midnight ruling allowing agencies to skip scientific review.

Obama’s memo doesn’t officially rescind Bush’s order; it asks the heads of the Commerce and Interior Departments to review the December ruling. Until that review is completed, Obama wants agency officials to return to the status quo ante-Bush in regard to the Endangered Species Act.

The best response to the memo came from Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who in a statement said, “Today proves that, under an Obama administration, scientists are no longer an endangered species. Thankfully, ESA in the Obama Administration now means we are ‘Ending the Scientific Aversion’ that characterized the Bush Administration’s tenure.”

I’m happy about the ruling, too, but I have to wonder: Why do Ken Salazar and the yet-to-be-confirmed Gary Locke need the time to review Bush’s rule? Why didn’t Obama just issue an executive order rescinding it? Last month’s omnibus spending bill required Obama to reissue or overturn the rule within 60 days, but this one’s a no-brainer; it doesn’t require review.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate