President Obama has asked federal agencies to reconsider an eleventh-hour Bush administration rule that allows agencies, in some cases, to let construction projects move forward without consulting scientists about the projects’ impact on endangered species. In a March 3 memo, Obama requested that agencies go back to the previous policy until the Bush administration rule can be reviewed.
At issue is a regulation that the Interior and Commerce departments issued on Dec. 11. It gave agencies broader authority to clear projects without checking with federal scientists about how the projects would affect wildlife. The agencies said the change would make it easier for projects with little impact on wildlife to advance. But environmental groups charged that the change would gut the law.