WASHINGTON — New legal memos by top Bush administration officials say that the Endangered Species Act cannot be used to protect animals and their habitats from climate change by regulating specific sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of global warming.
The assessment, outlined in memos sent this month and leaked Tuesday, provides justification for limiting protections under the Endangered Species Act.
One of the memos, from the Interior Department, concluded that emissions of greenhouse gases from any project cannot be proved to have an impact on species or habitat, so it isn't necessary for federal agencies to consult with government wildlife experts about the impact of such gases on species as stipulated under the Endangered Species Act.
The legal opinions about the Endangered Species Act come as the Bush administration seeks to change regulations to reduce the role government wildlife experts have in protecting animals from the effects of climate change.
The administration proposed the changes in August. Tuesday was the last day for public comment. Public opposition was massive.
The proposed changes would allow federal agencies to decide for themselves if timber sales, dam building or other projects harm wildlife, in many cases without consulting with the agencies charged with administering the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.