In a time of political gridlock, no political leader can implement terribly much of his or her agenda. But in certain positions, such as that of the US president, even a little bit of the agenda amounts to a lot.

The Seattle Times is running a thorough and impressive series on the Bush Administration’s environmental record. Today’s installment concerns the administration’s approach to the US Endangered Species Act.

Two comments:

First, the administration has been able to make dramatic changes in policy without consulting Congress, demonstrating just how much the presidency still matters even when it’s mostly checked by opponents in Congress.

Second, the administration has made these changes, which almost all weaken environmental protections, through stealth. Typically, it hides substantive changes in procedural reforms. Viewed from a broad perspective, this tactic is a testament to the depth and breadth of environmental sentiment in the United States.