May 29, 2011

Republicans Holding Up Dan Ashe Nomination to Head USFWS

Republican senators continue to uphold the nomination of long-time U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee Dan Ashe to become director of the Service — which has been without a designated leader since February 2010, when former director Sam Hamilton had a fatal heart attack while skiing.

Despite widespread support for Dan Ashe, Republican Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have been using the nomination process to vent their personal gripes about oil drilling, climate change, and the Endangered Species Act, exhibiting the kind of bureaucratic foot-dragging and game-playing that they were elected to eliminate.

In addition to Vitter and Lee, infamous climate change denier Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) had also rejected Dan Ashe’s nomination, but since getting reassurances from Ashe, he has changed his tune. The Canada Free Press reports that Ashe made an agreement with Inhofe to arrange listening sessions in Oklahoma regarding the listing of the lesser prairie chicken and agreed to not make climate change the driving force of the USFWS:

The details of the agreement between Senator Inhofe and Dan Ashe are contained in a letter dated May 17, 2011, in which Ashe pledged to hold meetings with stakeholders in Oklahoma to discuss the problems surrounding the potential ESA listing of the lesser prairie chicken..

Ashe pledged to clarify to FWS staff that ‘climate change is not the overarching consideration driving the Service’s day-to-day decision-making process’ and went on to say that they ‘do not believe that the FWS is responsible for the regulation of greenhouse gases, nor is it the Service’s role to address these causative factors through any of its statutory or regulatory authorities.’

If Republicans spent as much time and money battling climate change as they do denying it, the environment would have a brighter future. Let’s hope Dan Ashe doesn’t compromise too much in order to get the job.

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