June 18, 2005
The Bush administration altered critical portions of a scientific analysis of the environmental impact of cattle grazing on public lands before announcing Thursday that it would relax regulations limiting grazing on those lands, according to scientists involved in the study.
… The original draft of the environmental analysis warned that the new rules would have a “significant adverse impact” on wildlife, but that phrase was removed. The BLM now concludes that the grazing regulations are “beneficial to animals.”
Eliminated from the final draft was another conclusion that read: “The Proposed Action will have a slow, long-term adverse impact on wildlife and biological diversity in general.” Also removed was language saying how the rules changes could adversely affect endangered species.
… “This is a whitewash, they took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees,” said Erick Campbell, a former BLM state biologist in Nevada and a 30-year BLM employee who retired this year. Campbell was the author of sections of the report pertaining to impacts on wildlife and threatened and endangered species. “They rewrote everything. It’s a crime,” he said in an interview this week.
Grazing regulations cover 160 million acres of public land in the Western United States, and determine how ranchers can use it. Unsurprisingly, the watered-down regulations favor the ranchers over the environment.
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