Draft Environmental Assessment Released on ESA reg amendments
Yesterday the Service released its draft EA on the proposed regulatory amendments governing Section 7 consultation. The EA is required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Interior Department website has an excellent fact sheet explaining common misunderstandings regarding the nature and scope of the proposed amendments. The AP reports Center for Biological Diversity as raising serious questions regarding the propriety of an EA (as opposed to an environmental impact statement, a much more involved document reserved for federal actions that will have a significant effect on the environment), on the grounds that the proposed ESA regulatory amendments would categorically exclude greenhouse gas emissions as a proposed action effect requiring Section 7 consultation. CBD's observation seems more like carping than serious criticism: it stands to reason that the marginal change in greenhouse gases caused by an individual project's emissions would have at most a de minimis, and in any event an untraceable, effect on any given species or its habitat. The environmental community's criticism of the proposed amendments on this ground simply betrays a desire to address climate change policy through the courts, rather than through the politically accountable branches.