Under President Obama, some things are changing, and some things are staying the same. One of the things that’s staying the same is that the Center for Biological Diversity is having to file a lawsuit in order get the federal government to comply with its obligations under the Endangered Species Act.
Federal plans for groundwater development in Nevada will endanger populations of a fish, the moapa dace, and a reptile, the desert tortoise. The moapa dace was classified as an endangered species in 1967, and the desert tortoise was listed as a threatened species in 1990. Given this status for the species, the government is legally required to take action to protect their habitat. Yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management are taking action to threaten the habitat of these endangered animals.
That action was prepared under George W. Bush. President Bush regularly disregarded the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. Ignoring the law is something we came to expect from Bush.
However, the action is now set to go into action under Barack Obama. President Obama promised not to disregard the Endangered Species Act. Americans elected Obama because they expected him to establish a presidency that would follow the law.
So, the lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity is a test for President Obama. It is Obama’s Administration who will decide how to respond to the lawsuit – not the Bush Administration. Will Barack Obama choose to honor his promises to follow the law and respect the Endangered Species Act – or will Obama choose to abandon his promise of change, and slouch back into George W. Bush’s way of doing things?
Watch the way that Barack Obama directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management to deal with the desert tortoise and the moapa dace. You may not care much about the moapa dace and the desert tortoise in particularly, but more generally, whether President Obama upholds the law when it comes to these powerless animals will indicate whether he will uphold the law when it’s your own legal rights that are on the line.