Posted on Wed, Jul. 24, 2002
Bush Admin. Wants Manatee Plan Nixed
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration wants a federal judge to scuttle a settlement negotiated with environmentalists last year for protecting endangered manatees from boaters off the coast of Florida.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas L. Sansonetti said in court papers filed late Tuesday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot require 16 manatee sanctuaries and reduced speed zones specified in the settlement without first going through a formal regulatory process.
"In light of the manner in which the court has interpreted the settlement agreement, the FWS bargained away its discretion, binding itself to some substantive outcome in its rule-making before actually engaging in that rule-making," Sansonetti wrote.
Sansonetti told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan the agency "would need, at a minimum, until December 2" to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops required to establish 14 more protected areas.
The agency designated two refuges by last January but, bowing to a request by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, held off on the other 14, saying the need for them was less evident.
Sullivan ruled earlier this month that deferring action on the other 14 areas violated the settlement and directed the Fish and Wildlife Service to come up with a new timetable.
The judge ordered a new hearing on the issue for July 31.
ON THE NET
Fish and Wildlife Service: http://northflorida.fws.gov
Save the Manatee Club: http://www.savethemanatee.org
P.O. Box 296, Estero, FL 33928 E-mail
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