WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rejecting a prominent part of President Bush's environmental agenda, House Republicans shot down a proposal restricting the ability of environmental groups to get plants and animals added to the endangered species list.
At issue are the kind of lawsuits that largely have established the Interior Department's priorities in deciding which species deserve protection.
Mary Beth Beetham, director of legislative affairs for the Defenders of Wildlife, said the Bush provision "would have gutted citizen enforcement of the Endangered Species Act." But Interior Secretary Gale Norton has argued it was necessary to let the Fish and Wildlife Service do its job.
A Republican-led House subcommittee on Thursday removed language the administration had sought for the plan from an $18.9 billion lands and energy spending bill for 2002. The legislation sailed through the House Appropriations interior subcommittee on a voice vote.
The lawmakers also ignored Bush's request for $2 million for preparatory studies for oil drilling the president wants to begin in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That was the latest sign that Bush's proposal to drill in the sanctuary is all but dead in Congress.
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