The Interior and Commerce Departments issued a draft report that assesses the environmental impact of several proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed changes, which affect the interagency consultation process under the ESA, are intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the process and provide clarity to existing regulatory provisions. One of the proposals would eliminate consultation when an action is determined to be of little harm to a species, and the report acknowledged that, without change, the number of consultations will likely continue to increase due to global climate change.

The report compared several alternatives: taking no action, adopting the proposed action and adopting the proposed action in addition to implementing additional roles for affected services. Due to anticipated increased workloads and agency costs, the report concluded that taking no action would “not lead to the most effective implementation of the ESA.” Ultimately, the report concluded that the individual and collective proposals would not have any significant environmental impact.

The public was invited to review and comment on the draft report until November 6, 2008.