Last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to the Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Dirk Kempthorne regarding the Bush administration’s proposed revisions to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Bush Administration's proposed revisions were released last week and appear to be an attempt to prevent the regulation of greenhouse gases under the ESA. In the view of the Administration, the ESA has imposed unnecessary hurdles to federal projects and is ill-suited for addressing a global problem like climate change. According to the draft, "The proposed revisions make explicit that while the impact of tailpipe emissions on local air pollution could be an effect of the [federal] action, the GHG emissions’ contribution to global warming and associated impacts to listed species (e.g., polar bears) are not, and the effects of those impacts would not need to be considered . . . ." The final proposed revisions are expected to be published in the Federal Register in the near future.

Senator Boxer's letter expresses her concern over the proposed revisions and invites the Secretary Kempthorne to testify at an oversight hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee at the end of September. The letter goes on to say that, “The proposed regulations greatly undermine the Act's purpose to conserve endangered and threatened species and appear to contravene the plain language of the Act. I therefore urge that you discontinue any further action on the proposed rule.” The Senator also urges that the public comment period be extended from 30 days to six months.