Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment

Center for Biological Diversity says new program bypasses findings and leaves decisions to employees who are not experts
Emily Holden in Washington
Fri 9 Nov 2018 00.08 GMTLast modified on Fri 9 Nov 2018 14.12 GMT
Environmental advocates are suing Donald Trump’s interior department for using what they call a secretive process that ignores science in refusing protections for at-risk species.
The Center for Biological Diversity says a new program called the Species Status Assessment bypasses findings from scientists and leaves protection decisions to career federal employees who are not experts and may be under pressure from bosses.
“It’s like going into the hospital and having a team of doctors diagnose you and then leaving the decision up to the chief financial officer of the hospital about what treatment they’re going to pursue,” said Ryan Shannon, an attorney for the group. “There’s a disconnect here.”
Shannon said Trump officials are looking for “wiggle room” to deregulate.
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The administration last year declined to list the Pacific walrus as endangered, arguing that the animals could adapt to sea ice melting from climate change.
Additionally, two scientists have said they were rushed in assessing the threats from farming to the endangered American burying beetle and felt the interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service would conclude agriculture is not a risk regardless of what data they presented.

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