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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Parts of National Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration to be Transferred to Department of the Interior

Posted in Congress

President Obama announced a government consolidation plan that would involve transferring parts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA"), which is currently part of the Department of Commerce, to the Department of the Interior.  NOAA oversees marine wildlife, including endangered marine species.  The Fish and Wildlife Service, which is an agency within Interior, oversees freshwater species and land-dwelling wildlife.  In his remarks regarding the proposed consolidation, President Obama, suggested that having the two agencies that conduct oversight over species in separate departments was inefficient.

As reported by Jason Samenow in the Washington Post, the consolidation plan is facing growing opposition.  Several environmental groups, including the NRDC have spoken out against the plan arguing that it could hinder the government’s protection of the oceans and undermine the agency’s independence.  The National Weather Service Employee’s Union is also opposed to the consolidation.  However, not everyone thinks the consolidation is entirely bad.  David Malakoff of Science quotes a former head of NOAA’s marine fisheries program as stating that "The place that NOAA sits doesn’t matter; what matters is that its operations need to be coherent and functioning" and that there are both advantages and disadvantages to the proposed consolidation.