Lawsuits and congressional action are likely to void the gutting of section 7 of ESA-
This has already been reported in the comments on one of the threads here; but for everyone this is what has happened.
California filed suit to overturn the Bush/Kempthorne diminishment of section 7 consultation.
Congress is right now moving to directly overturn this new regulation. Story
Now Oregon has sued as well. Oregon joins lawsuit against feds on endangered species. By Michael Milstein. Oregonian.
Section 7 requires that an agency with a project has to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see if the project will affect endangered species. Any experience with government agencies tell you that you can’t expect an agency to be honest about the side effects of a project they want to build, carryout or whatever. So you need a neutral party of experts to give an independent judgment. Agencies almost always just hate to get an opinion from the USFWS that their prize project “may jeopardize” an species.
The Bush/Kempthone rule would, among other things, make it so that agencies don’t have to consult.