Protect the Endangered Species Act

For more than 30 years, the Endangered Species Act has protected wildlife at the brink of extinction. From our national symbol, the bald eagle, to grizzlies, wolves and California condors, our nation's wildlife continue to survive in the wild thanks to these protections.

But the Bush administration tried to make a last ditch effort to undermine the Endangered Species Act. Currently, federal agencies are required to consult with expert scientists at US Fish and Wildlife or National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure proposed actions will not jeopardize threatened or endangered wildlife. But the Bush administration tried to remove this fundamental check and balance, putting wildlife in harm's way.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment and leave behind a legacy of protecting endangered species and the special places they call home. Please sign our petition urging President Obama to stop the previous administration's last ditch efforts to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

Dear President Obama,

As a Defenders of Wildlife supporter and someone who cares deeply about the recovery of endangered wildlife, I am writing to voice my opposition to the Bush/Cheney Administration's eleventh-hour changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations that would eliminate vital checks and balances that protect threatened and endangered wildlife.

The changes strike at the very heart of this landmark conservation bill, undermining the protection of polar bears, wolves and the nearly 1,400 other wildlife species now safeguarded by the ESA.

These changes will severely limit the ability of wildlife experts in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to protect imperiled wildlife by eliminating crucial interagency consultations on project decisions that may affect endangered or threatened species. It also prevents expert agencies from considering how greenhouse gas emissions from new projects could impact polar bears, lynx and other wildlife that may go extinct due to global warming.

The independent review of experts at USFWS and NMFS is crucial for agencies proposing projects such as highways, dams, mines, oil or gas drilling and virtually any other activity. The new regulations will allow for agencies engaging in these activities to decide for themselves regardless of their resources or staff expertise to do so -- whether a project is likely to impact any of the nearly 1,400 species protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Many of these agencies do not even have biologists or other qualified experts to make such determinations on their own.

Even in situations where a federal agency voluntarily chooses to consult with USFWS or NMFS experts, an arbitrary 60-day limit on those consultations is imposed -- otherwise, the project, no matter how harmful to imperiled wildlife, can move forward.

These changes in the rules that govern how the Endangered Species Act works cut huge holes in the safety net that protects animals and plants in danger of becoming extinct.

I urge you to overturn these changes that undermine this landmark conservation law.

[Your Comments]

Thank you for considering my comments and I look forward to your response.


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