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Democrats Want To Bring Scientists Back Into Environmental Policy Debate

(AP/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service )
America's policy decisions about global warming and its impact on endangered species could once again be influenced by the scientists and researchers who understand the issue best, as President Obama considers wiping out Bush administration rules that excluded such experts from the process, reports the Associated Press.

The previous administration scrambled to re-write the rules shortly after last year's presidential election. Prior to those last-minute changes, government scientists, including wildlife biologists, had oversight on major infrastructure projects such as dams or highways and used that authority to put the brakes on proposals that they said would be dangerous for the environment.

But under the current rules, the Bush White House allowed the federal agencies building those projects to decide whether they were harmful, without the input of people qualified to make those judgments.

By a 52-42 vote, Democrats defeated a move by Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski to require the new administration go through a lengthy process to reverse the rules, according to the AP.