The NYT and Rachel Maddow are now on the watch for lame-duck mischief by the Bush Misunderadministration on its way out, and I’m afraid this is going to entail some real mischief. Froude Reynolds, as usual, is keeping an eye on water projects and sent this a few days ago (I sat on it so it wouldn’t sink under all the election stuff):
When Kevin Drum talks about the Bush administration pushing regulations through in haste, he isn’t kidding. In an effort to amend the Endangered Species Act to say it doesn’t really apply to big federal projects like power plants or dams, the Bush administration claimed it reviewed 200,000 comments in four days. Not all by themselves. They called in fifteen extra people from around the country to work on it all week! With that kind of manpower, each person only had to read seven comments every minute!
Rushing to ease endangered species rules before President Bush leaves office, Interior Department officials are attempting to review 200,000 comments from the public in just 32 hours, according to an e-mail obtained by the Associated Press.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has called a team of 15 people to Washington this week to go through letters and online comments about a proposal to exclude greenhouse gases and the advice of federal biologists from decisions about whether dams, power plants and other federal projects could harm species. That would be the biggest change in endangered species rules since 1986.
In an e-mail last week to Fish and Wildlife managers across the country, Bryan Arroyo, the head of the agency’s endangered species program, said the team would work eight hours a day starting Tuesday to the close of business on Friday to sort through the comments.
The following Monday, they announced the new regulations. It isn’t so much that I’m worried about these taking effect. That behavior is the very definition of “arbitrary and capricious” and judges haven’t been impressed with the Bush administration’s diligence on environmental laws. But what a waste to have to litigate this. What an unnecessary hassle to have to revoke them.