Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The Bush administration yesterday told a federal court it would reconsider its stance on critical habitat for endangered bull trout. DOJ lawyers yesterday said that the administration is considering whether to continue defending a 2005 decision to reduce critical habitat for bull trout by 90 percent after the Interior IGs most recent report mentioning the decision as one of 13 whose legitimacy had been damaged by political tampering from former Interior official Julie MacDonald. Previous post on Interior IG report In January 2006, two environmental groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan, sued Interior over the decision in U.S. District Court in Oregon. E&E News
When the habitat designation was shrunk in 2005, Interior officials justified the cuts because much of the excluded habitat was already protected by state policies and other environmental management plans. However, the environmental plaintiffs contended that the Bush Administration excluded critical habitat to open the river areas to development and resource extraction. Designation of critical habitat prohibits action reducing the habitat's ability to support the endangered species.