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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 12:41 PM
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* administration appointee "may have improperly influenced" rulings to protect endangered species
7 Decisions on Species Revised
Fish and Wildlife Service Cites Possibility of Improper Influence

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 28, 2007; Page A03


After concluding that a Bush administration appointee "may have improperly influenced" several rulings on whether to protect imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service has revised seven decisions on protecting species across the country.

The policy reversal, sparked by inquiries by the Interior Department's inspector general and by the House Natural Resources Committee, underscores the extent to which the administration is still dealing with the fallout from the tenure of Julie MacDonald, the deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks who repeatedly overruled agency scientists' recommendations on endangered-species decisions. MacDonald resigned from the department in May after she was criticized in a report by the inspector general and as she was facing congressional scrutiny.

In a letter dated Nov. 23 to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-W.Va.), acting Director Kenneth Stansell of the Fish and Wildlife Service said that the agency spent four months reviewing eight Endangered Species Act decisions made under MacDonald and is revising seven of them. Those rulings affected 17 species, including 12 species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies.

In the course of those reviews, for example, Mitch King, then the agency's Region 6 director, said in a June memo to headquarters that while the field and regional office's scientific review concluded there is "substantial" evidence that the white-tailed prairie dog faces a risk of extinction, "the change to 'not substantial' only occurred at Ms. MacDonald's suggestion."

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...
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