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Democrats Fault Interior on Endangered Species

Democrats on Capitol Hill are trying to prod the Bush administration to be more aggressive in enforcing the Endangered Species Act.

The lawmakers have accused political appointees of attempting to manipulate the work of government biologists — a point of view supported by a report by the Interior Department's inspector general. One of those political appointees resigned last week.

The Bush administration has listed fewer species as threatened or endangered than any of its predecessors.

A recent report by the Inspector General of the Interior Department documented many examples of Bush administration political appointees interfering in science at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The report focused on the actions of one official, Julie MacDonald, who was the deputy assistant Secretary of Interior until she resigned last week.

The report found that MacDonald bullied field biologists, rewrote their conclusions to favor business interests, and gave lobbyists internal department documents. Contacted for this report, MacDonald declined to comment.

But on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Democrats said MacDonald's actions are part of a much broader problem. And they called on the administration to review all the decisions she influenced.

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