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Streamlining Endangered Species Rules Might Be IllegalStreamlining Endangered Species Rules Might Be Illegal | The Washington Independent

Andrew Wetzler, head of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s endangered species project, has been blogging today about the Bush administration’s attempt to rush through new rules that could overhaul the Endangered Species Act. In one post, Wetzler argues that the White House’s actions could be illegal.

The Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service are required to analyze the new rules to make sure they don’t violate the National Environmental Policy Act. This law requires federal agencies to come up with an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed rule that could harm the quality of the human environment. According to Wetzler, coming up with an EIS is a long and involved process.

In addition, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have to undertake “internal” consultations to determine the rules’ potential effects on species protected by the Endangered Species Act before the rules can be finalized. Yet another involved process, Wetzler says.

The Bush administration hopes to pass its new rules by November. It’s unclear how it plans to carry out the necessary reviews and consultations in a matter of days without violating any laws.

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