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White House eschews species protections

WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- The White House reportedly has made it more difficult to place plants and animals under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that because of slight changes in procedures and government policies, a bevy of obstacles await Interior Department scientists who want to seek federal protections for endangered and threatened species.

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Among the changes instituted by the Bush administration is the way species are evaluated for protections under the 35-year-old law. Scientists may now only consider where a threatened species lives now as opposed to where it once had habitat.

The newspaper said since President George Bush took office more than seven years ago, his administration has placed 59 domestic species on the endangered list, which is almost the exact number his father listed during each of his four years in the Oval Office.

President Bill Clinton added an average of 58 and 62 species to the list each year, the newspaper said.

Moreover, since U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne was appointed almost two years ago, he has not declared a single native species worthy of federal protection.

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