Julie MacDonald was a civil engineer inexplicably appointed to oversee the Fish and Wildlife Service. During her reign, she rewrote the scientific assessments of Interior Department biologists, sent confidential documents to a virtual friend on an online role-playing game and colluded with developers to block endangered species listings. Then just before the Democratic congress got to rake her over the coals, she quit, making her testimony moot.
Seven months later, some endangered species rulings she interfered with have been thrown out:
The Fish and Wildlife Service reversed seven rulings that denied increased protection for endangered species, after an inquiry found that the actions had been tainted by political pressure from a former Interior Department official. In a letter to Representative Nick J. Rahall II, Democrat of West Virginia, the agency acknowledged that the actions had been ?inappropriately influenced? and that ?revising the seven identified decisions is supported by scientific evidence and the proper legal standards.? The ruling affects species including the white-tailed prairie dog, the Preble?s meadow jumping mouse and the Canada lynx.
It does not seem to cover Gunnison’s sage grouse, a species that richly deserved listing, but which she blocked. The case of Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is sketchier, since there’s decent molecular evidence that it isn’t a distinct population. The Interior Department didn’t review decisions which reduced protections for the marbled murrelet and the spotted owl.