The Bush administration yesterday proposed a regulatory overhaul of the Endangered Species Act to allow federal agencies to decide whether protected species would be imperiled by agency projects, eliminating the independent scientific reviews that have been required for more than three decades.
[…] Under current law, agencies must subject any plans that potentially affect endangered animals and plants to an independent review by the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. Under the proposed new rules, dam and highway construction and other federal projects could proceed without delay if the agency in charge decides they would not harm vulnerable species.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that this is as stupid as
letting the defendant at a trial decide whether he’s guilty or not, so
I won’t belabor that point.
But even with the best intentions on everyone’s part, this is still a
There’s a joke about an old engineer called out of retirement to help
fix a machine at the factory where he used to work. After poking
around, he puts a chalk mark on the part to be replaced, and submits a
bill for $30,000, itemized as follows: “Chalk mark: $0.50. Knowing
where to put the chalk mark: $29,999.50”.
The EPA is in the best position to tell where environmental chalk marks should
go. It’s what they do. That’s why they have environmental experts. The
department of transportation may be great at planning and building
roads, but they can’t be expected to accurately predict how their work
affects the environment, any more than the EPA can be expected to
design and build an efficient highway system.