Obama Administration Restores Scientific Review to ESA

The Obama administration is to be congratulated for its restoration of a key scientific review provision of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Before President Bush left office, his administration removed an ESA requirement compelling federal agencies to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service prior to taking action that might harm threatened or endangered species.

A memorandum issued by the Obama administration in March announced that the rule will be re-established, subject to a review by the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior. With the review complete, the rule was reinstated on April 28. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar noted that, "By rolling back this eleventh-hour regulation, we are ensuring that threatened and endangered species continue to receive the full protection of the law."

While this is great news, we are still awaiting word on the status of polar bears, who also had protections removed by the previous administration, which refused to consider the indirect adverse consequences of global warming on the species. It is hoped that the current administration will rescind this rule as well.