Thanks to Karen for the great pic.
***Thank you. Your comment on Document ID: FWS-R9-ES-2008-0093-0001 has been sent.
***Your Comment tracking number is 806ef187 .
I am hereby voicing my opposition to the proposed rule changes of FWS-R9-ES-2008-0093 the "Interagency Cooperation Under the Endangered Species Act."
To begin, the changes proposed by this act would only serve to obfuscate the consultation process between action agencies and Services as well as limit proper oversight by Services.
By clarifying the definition of "cumulative effects" and "indirect effects" to mean clearly that the results of an action must be "reasonably certain to occur" instead of "foreseeable" in the future severely limits the impact of consultation. The inclusion of this definition as well as the inclusion of language requiring that an action must be an "essential cause" of an indirect effect reduces the scope of environmental impact assessment to a level of specificity that undermines the overall impact of environmental review. With these new rules in place, even though an effect would be likely to occur, it will have no standing in the review process unless such an effect can be proven to occur. When dealing with the preservation of species and habitat proof of damage should not be required if it can be shown that damage is likely to occur. This is an intentional attempt to weaken species and habitat protections.
Proposed paragraphs (b)(2) and (3) also exclude from consultation actions which are so uncertain or unlikely that they are tantamount to having no effect on listed species or habitat. Uncertainty should not be tantamount to "no effect." If anything, uncertainty should be cause for review.
Overall the proposed changes in paragraph (b) equate actions which "may affect" species and habitats to actions which can be shown to have "no effect." Once again, this is simply a weakening of protections on species on habitats.
The loss of the need for consultation between agencies and Services based on the proposed changes to paragraph (b) are unwarranted. The changes are unnecessary because under the current regulations there is already a process in place under which actions deemed to have little potential impact on habitats or listed species can be proposed as such by the action agency to the Service. The Service can then concur with that determination and the consultation obligation is satisfied. Therefore, any impact on the expediency on the process will be minimal because a method of increasing expediency is already built into the system.
The inclusion of deadlines for response from the Service to an agency is a means by which, by flooding the Service with requests, an agency could stand to receive no review and thus circumvent a much needed process; even though under the proposed rule changes this review would be optional.
Overall, the proposed rule changes will have little impact on efficiency, will forfeit important reviews in instances where listed species and habitats "may" be threatened, and will require that the review process itself be so specifically and rigidly targeted so that any wide-ranging environmental impacts of an action will go un-investigated and any findings that do not show direct causality beyond the shadow of a doubt (regardless of however likely these findings may be) will be disregarded.
It is for these reasons that FWS-R9-ES-2008-0093, the "Interagency Cooperation Under the Endangered Species Act," is poor policy and should not be implemented.