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Obama puts Science Back into Endangered Species Act

In a victory for the conservation community, President Obama announced today that he is going to undertake a comprehensive review of a controversial regulation imposed by President Bush and reinstate science into the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  He asked federal agencies to abide by the ESA implementing rules in place prior to Bush’s ‘midnight regulation’ issued in December – a common practice to implement policies just prior to leaving office .  President Obama’s memorandum requests that federal agencies return to their prior practice of seeking the concurrence of the scientific experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service on agency decisions regarding impacts of their actions on endangered species.

Obama made the announcement at an event honoring the 160th anniversary of the Department of Interior. Secretary Ken Salazar, department staff, and a number of conservation organizations—including WWF—were invited to attend.

WWF worked for several months to overturn the directive - with formal comments at the administrative level, advocacy before Congress, and grassroots action through numerous Conservation Action Network alerts – but this is just a first step.  WWF will continue efforts to formally overturn the regulation and to protect language in the congressional omnibus FY09 spending bill that encourages President Obama to do so.    

Read Obama's remarks

Read the formal memo

Learn more about the Endangered Species Act