Four years ago, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) “started a rulemaking process to protect the North Atlantic right whale” — there are only about 300 still alive — from collisions with ships. The threat to the species’ population is so serious that the NMFS says that “the death of even a single whale, particularly of a breeding female, “may contribute to the extinction of the species.” But according to a letter sent by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), efforts to protect the whales are being undermined by Vice President Dick Cheney’s office:
[The National Marine Fisheries Service] submitted their plan to an office in OMB at the end of February 2007 for a review that was supposed to take 90 days. Now over a year later the review has not been completed and documents point to White House officials and the office of the Vice President as being a major reason why. Cheney’s office is questioning everything including whether reducing the speed of large ships will help save the whales.
In the four years since the rulemaking process began, “seven more North Atlantic right whales have been killed by “vessel strikes” and five have been injured.” Read Waxman’s full letter here.