Endangered Species Act Rewrite Could Change Wildlife Protections

News broke recently that the federal government is considering a major rewrite of one of America’s most important conservation laws, the Endangered Species Act, with all indications pointing to a drastically weakened interpretation.

NWF’s own John Kostyack stopped by NPR to give an example of just how this could affect wildlife such as Northwest salmon:

Rewrite Would Weaken Endangered Species Act”
by Elizabeth Shogren

Morning Edition, March 28, 2007 – “…John Kostyack, of the National Wildlife Federation, says a lawsuit filed by his group probably inspired one of the proposals. The case was about whether the government should require dam operators to protect endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

“‘The administration lost because they were arguing that they were not responsible for the very endangered condition of the salmon,’ he says. ‘And as long as their project didn’t worsen that very endangered situation, then they had no responsibility. The court said no.’

“The judge ordered the government to find ways to better protect the salmon, but Kostyack says under the new proposals that obligation would disappear. The government could keep giving industries permission to do things that harmed species, even on public land.

“‘As long as you weren’t worsening an already bad situation, you have no responsibility,’ Kostyack explains.”