Not only is George W. Bush’s secretary of the interior trying to rewrite endangered species protections, he also appears to be tuning out public input, which is required by law. Scientists and activists from more than 100 environmental groups have signed a petition demanding a longer, more democratic hearing before environmental protection goes the way of the icecaps.
Every US government agency must seek public comment on a rules change before making it. Comments are generally accepted for several months—but the species protections are scheduled to pass after only 30 days of discussion.
“It appears as if the [Bush] administration is doing whatever it can to discourage participation in the democratic process,” National Wildlife Federation executive director John Kostyack said.
“I think we can expect more sneaky assaults like this on our public land and wildlife laws as this administration heads for the exits.”
In addition, public comments will only be accepted by mail or through a government website that automatically shares one’s personal information. The limited comments could prevent green groups from generating mass opposition to the new rule via fax and email.