President Obama has withdrawn a policy adopted by the Bush Administration in late 2008 allowing federal agencies to approve a commercial development (road, power plant, homes, etc.) on its own authority if it is determined that the project will have no impact on a threatened species.
The Interior Department will return to the previous application of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and require all federal agencies to first consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) if there was the potential to impact a threatened or endangered species. In the past, this periodically led to a review process that could last months or years and be contested in court.
Millions of acres of land have been closed under the ESA as a mechanism to protect plants and animals. Nevertheless, there is general consensus in Congress that the ESA needs to be updated so that less money is spent on ESA lawsuits and more is spent on providing quality habitats.
The issue is of consequence to SEMA members that market products for use on off-highway vehicles since public access has been denied to roads and trails in ESA-protected areas.
For additional information, contact Brian Duggan at email@example.com.