WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Environmental Protection Agency no longer will have to consult with other federal agencies to determine if approval of a pesticide might jeopardize plants and animals shielded under the Endangered Species Act, the Bush administration said Thursday.

The streamlined regulations from the Interior and Commerce departments mean the EPA will not adhere to an Endangered Species Act requirement that it consult in each case with Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service and Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service. Those two agencies oversee the federal species protection statute.

EPA will now skip consultations with the other agencies when making a decision, after scientific review, that a pesticide probably won't harm a species' survival. EPA can still ask for formal consultations, but the other agencies will presume EPA's review work is adequate.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams said it was too difficult to look at each possibility among hundreds of active chemicals and 1,200 threatened and endangered species. While required by the law, consultation has routinely been ignored.

``Because of the complexity of the consultations to examine the effects of pest-control products, there have been almost no consultations completed in the past decade,'' said a statement issued by the three agencies as well as the Agriculture Department.

By not requiring so many consultations, the officials said it was more likely the ones that matter most would get done. The Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Nixon in 1973.

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