Inhofe Says New ESA Rule a Step in the Right Direction
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today commented on the release of afinal rule by the Department of Interior (DOI) that makes modest changes to the regulations governing the ESA Section 7 “Consultation” process. The DOI proposed the rule in August of this year, and the public comment period ended October 15. The DOI has also completed an environmental impact statement for the proposed changes.
“The final rule released today by DOI is a step in the right direction,” Senator Inhofe said. “I am pleased that the new rule clarifies what is meant by the effects of a federal action in a way that makes it more difficult to the claim that any alleged effect (e.g. climate change, CO2 emissions) has a direct enough impact to be considered an actual threat to a species under ESA. Specifically, the revision requires that indirect effects must be essential causes that are reasonably certain to occur based on substantiated information.
“The rule also allows other agencies considering the impacts of ‘major federal agencies’ to make threshold determination of whether of the action has ‘no effect’ on any listed species, potentially relieving that agency of the requirement to seek informal or formal consultation with DOI. However, in order to qualify for the ‘no effect, no consultation’ determination, the action agency must meet very strict criteria. This process is a good first step towards true ESA reform, but it is designed only to relieve the obligation the consult on the actions that most obviously have no potential to affect a listed species: very few federal actions will meet the strict requirements to get out of consultation so species protections are not compromised.
“Though some liberal activists allege that this rule dismantles ESA protections, nothing could be further from the truth. These are commonsense changes to a law much overdue for reform,” Inhofe concluded.