The business community won a round last December when the Bush administration restored a Clinton-era policy known as “no surprises.” Under the rule, federal agencies can assure home builders as well as timber and mining companies that once a Habitat Conservation Plan is approved, the government cannot impose additional conservation measures, except in limited circumstances that the parties could predict when the plan was originally agreed upon. The home builders see the move as essential to balancing environmental protection with the need for affordable housing, while environmentalists say “no surprises” will put endangered species at greater risk.

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