Message à nos petits-enfants
Last August, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that undermines the science behind the ESA [Endangered Species Act] in significant ways. First, the legislation transfers the authority of deciding what is the best available science from scientists to political appointees in the Department of Interior. Second, the legislation requires decisions affecting species to be based on empirical data—effectively eliminating the use of established scientific techniques such as modeling, population surveys, and taxonomic and genetic studies.
Furthermore, species' habitat requirements are threatened. The Act currently requires the designation and protection of habitat that is "essential to the conservation of the species," including recovery. The House bill eliminates the "critical habitat" requirement and replaces it with the identification of certain areas that are of "special value" to its conservation and are already occupied by the species. There are, however, no guidelines as to what "special value" means, no attention to historical habitat or future habitat the species might occupy, and no requirement or guidelines for habitat protection.
The House legislation would fundamentally and negatively alter the way science would inform critical decisions affecting endangered and threatened species. Furthermore, it represents a Congressional assault on scientific integrity and the ability of federal scientists to do their jobs.