Breaking: Obama may announce intent to reconsider Bush administration Endangered Species Act Regulations
The Los Angeles Times reports that President Obama will make an announcement today about former President Bush's last-minute regulations weakening the Endangered Species Act. The Bush regulations went into effect on January 15, 2009.
According to the Times, the White House "will announce today that it is reconsidering" the Bush administrations changes to the Act. The Times story is a bit sketchy on details, but Congressman Nick Rahall, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is quoted as praising the President's move "to restore the protections for endangered species that the Bush administration spent so many years trying to undermine," which certainly sounds promising.
In the meantime, as part of an omnibus appropriations bill now pending in the Senate, Congress is trying to give the President the flexibility to quickly withdraw these Bush era regulations and restore the status quo that existed on January 14, 2009. But Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has moved to block this measure, potentially placing the entire future of the spending package doubt. That's no small thing, considering that the omnibus bill not only gives the President the authority to quickly reverse the Endangered Species Act rule but also contains crucial spending measures to promote a sustainable energy future. Among other things, the bill would increase solar energy funding to $175 million; quadruple water energy programs to $40 million; and increase the vehicle technology accounts to $273 million.
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UPDATE: The Washington Post is reporting that President Obama intends to "issue a presidential memorandum...that will direct departments to yet again consult with the two agencies on decisions that could affect imperiled plants and animals while the Interior and Commerce Departments review the Bush rulemaking."