Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not to rain on anyone's parade this morning...but this is worrisome to me.

First of all, let me begin by saying how EXCITED I am about Barack Obama's inauguration. I'm sitting here watching the TV right now with goosebumps and tears as I type this. I truly believe he is going to change our country for the better.

I've been so focused on learning what Obama wants to do for our country that I failed to read up on the those he has picked to work with him in the White House. It appears Ken Salazar may be at best, a shaky leader for the Interior Department.

I peek in on this blog once or twice a week and was dismayed to find the following post, which was taken from:

The incoming Interior Secretary must address Endangered Species Act (ESA) enforcement with the highest dedication to science and to affording prompt protection to the many species in need in the U.S. Unfortunately, Sen. Salazar’s track record indicates, at best a lack of interest, and at worst, open hostility to ESA enforcement, particularly where species listings may impact agriculture.

While Colorado’s Attorney General, in 1999, Salazar threatened a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior if the Service listed the black-tailed prairie dog under the ESA. Rather than respecting the ESA’s requirement that listing decisions are to be based solely on science, Salazar and his co-authors complained about potential impacts “to its citizens” of protecting the prairie dog from extinction. Earlier this month, even the Bush administration admitted that the black-tailed prairie dog might require ESA protection.

While Colorado’s U.S. Senator, Salazar continued to be very clear that he would not back ESA listings if they affect agribusiness. But many of the state’s vanishing species, including the black-tailed prairie dog, mountain plover, Gunnison’s prairie dog, lesser prairie-chicken, and others, are threatened by agribusiness. Nationally, agriculture is a leading threat to imperiled plants and animals. We fear that they would remain unprotected under an Interior Secretary Salazar, given his deference to agriculture and his lack of zeal on ESA enforcement.

If appointed as Interior Secretary, Salazar would be the final word on ESA listings. Approximately 300 species await listing as formal candidates or species proposed for listing. The Bush administration has slowed the listing program down to a glacial pace, with only 8 species listings per year. We are hoping the incoming Interior Secretary will tackle this backlog of endangered but as yet unprotected species by seriously ramping up the listing program. We are not confident that Salazar possesses the will for this important work.

So I did a little snooping around and found this article on the LA Times website:

The Interior Department has been criticized by lawmakers and environmentalists in recent years over a sex and drugs scandal in one of its bureaus and an auditors' report saying employees manipulated endangered species decisions to advance a political agenda.

"I want to clean up the mess," Salazar said in his opening statement.

But he offered few details on his plans and sidestepped several subjects, including protections for gray wolves, the relationship between global warming and the Endangered Species Act, and whether he would continue to allow guns and snowmobiles in national parks.

In some areas he was more direct, promising to reform the nation's signature mining law and to consider numerous options for energy independence, including offshore oil drilling and, under the right conditions, oil shale development.

He pledged support for renewable energy development -- a cause he championed as senator -- and promised a balanced approach to energy and land-use policy.

I like that he's active in approving the search for renewable energy resources,but he seems to cast a blind eye towards conserving those ecosystems that support endangered species, especially when it comes to matters of agriculture.

We can only continue to champion our cause for those animals and ecosystems we care about and hope to make a difference in our actions and words.

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