I just finished watching President Obama's stirring speech to employees of the Department of the Interior. As expected, the President announced that he was issuing a memorandum ordering federal agencies to resume Endangered Species Act consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service where they would have been required to do so under the old Act's rules, but now no longer are. Here are the key graphs:
I hereby request the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to review the regulation issued on December 16, 2008, and to determine whether to undertake new rulemaking procedures with respect to consultative and concurrence processes that will promote the purposes of the ESA.
Until such review is completed, I request the heads of all agencies to exercise their discretion, under the new regulation, to follow the prior longstanding consultation and concurrence practices involving the FWS and NMFS.
This effectively suspends former President Bush's regulatory changes to the Endangered Species Act and restores the status quo to one of our most important environmental laws. All of our nation's endangered species--from polar bears to silvery minnows--will benefit.
And my favorite line in the President's speech? He said: "we should be looking for ways to improve [the Endangered Species Act], not weaken it."