Hot on the heels of the great Bushco Giant Sequoia smackdown comes another rebuke by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour in Seattle.
Judge Coughenour found that a recent regulation allowed necessary reviews to be bypassed.
LA Times Link
Ruling that the Bush administration “plainly violated” the Endangered Species Act, a federal judge overturned a regulation Thursday that streamlined approval of pesticides by eliminating reviews by wildlife officials responsible for protecting rare animals and plants.
Violating existing law has been a consistent and continuing theme for this administration, big business being the usual intended beneficiary. And so it was here.
Pesticide manufacturers had long urged the 2004 change, calling it a “sensible approach” to allow the EPA to judge the risks to wildlife from their products.
But for this particular Judge, consistency has also been a hallmark.
For the second time in the past five years, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ruled against federal agencies for failing to follow the Endangered Species Act in licensing pesticides for sale.
The Judge indicated that the regulation offered considerably less of a shield than the existing legislation.
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour in Seattle ruled that the process approved in 2004 was “less protective” of wildlife than the old process and that there was a “total absence of any technical and scientific evidence to support or justify” it.
In fact, the Judge went even further, finding absolutely no basis for the regulation’s existence. And the consistent pattern of ignoring science continues.
Judge Coughenour determined that the rules were “arbitrary and capricious” because they ignored the risks to species and because political appointees at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignored the concerns of its own scientists. …
The judge noted the “total absence of any technical and scientific evidence to support or justify” the agencies’ rule.
The Interior Department had this troubling comment.
“Obviously these regulations arose out of our efforts to both protect wildlife and ensure pesticide applications are reviewed in a timely manner,” said Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Chris Tollefson. “Our foremost concern here is protecting threatened and endangered species, and we’ll continue to do that. We’ll just have to evaluate this ruling to see where we go from here.”
Of course enforcing existing legislation is always one option. But perhaps I’m just being naive.
But then there’s this.
Despite the ruling, pesticide makers could get a five year respite before they must comply with the Endangered Species Act if a House bill sponsored by California Republican Congressman Richard Pombo, who chairs the House Resources Committee. The Senate has not approved this measure.
Time to start making some calls.