Obama Reverses Bush on Species Protection Measure

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In a move that will subject a number of government projects to enhanced environmental and scientific scrutiny, President Obama is restoring a requirement that U.S. agencies consult with independent federal experts to determine whether their actions might harm threatened and endangered species.

The presidential memorandum issued yesterday, which marks yet another reversal of former president George W. Bush's environmental legacy, will revive a decades-old practice under the Endangered Species Act that calls for agencies to consult with either the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on whether their projects could affect imperiled species.

…Obama, who visited the Interior Department to commemorate its 160th anniversary, said he had instructed Interior and Commerce Department officials to review the Bush rules. In the meantime, according to the memorandum, officials should "follow the prior longstanding consultation and concurrence practices" that call for independent reviews. "The work of scientists and experts in my administration, including here at the Interior Department, will be respected," Obama said. "With smart, sustainable policies, we can grow our economy today and preserve the environment."