As you may have picked up from my previous posts, I actually support GWB on
this issue and can see where his administration is coming from. I honestly
don't see this as a set back for conservation issues, just a redirecting of
the means which are used to influence government policy and enforcement.
In fact, I've been pleased with the environmental positions this
administration has taken. Unfortunately, all environmental issues must be
taken from a cost/benefit basis. In other words, how much is a particular
policy 'costing' consumers, tax-payers, homeowners, and manufacturers and
how much is being 'gained'. I know some people cringe at that idea, but
when pushed to the extreme example (ad absurdum) it works and must be used.
Let's take the pupfish for example. I love the pupfish. I want it to
survive very badly. All biases aside, let's say it would indisputably cost
taxpayers $2.3B, homeowners 520 homes, and farmers 18 farms.....in order to
save the species. Is it worth it? It might be. Double that. Is it worth
it? It might be. Double that is it worth it? Where do we say 'no'? There
is a point.
OK, I think this is where the current administration is coming from. I
understand that and I agree with that. Hard decisions are not easy by
Now, I appreciated your distinction between conservationists and
environmentalists in your post. If we found the average representative of
each group, they would answer the above questions very differently. I think
it's important to recognize the underlying values of each group.
Relating to your last sentence, each group would, "love nature and value
biodiversity", but for very different reasons and with very different ends
From: Christopher Scharpf
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2001 5:57 PM
To: NANFA Mailing List
Subject: Re: NANFA-- Bush and the ESA
>However, I think it is important to note that no law is being broken.
Okay, I see your point. Still, others would argue that a law *is* being
when a law states that a federal agency is obligated to perform certain
functions as stipulated by that law, yet chooses not to perform those
for whatever reason. In the case of the ESA, environmental lawyers would
that failure to act *is* breaking the law.
>There are already means in place to ensure the proper
>enforcement of existing laws.
Well....yes. One way is for citizens to sue the gov't to get them to enforce
law. Congress set those statutory guidelines on purpose because they knew
agencies would have a hard time enforcing certain laws in an atmosphere
of political pressure and controversy.
>Just because I don't like the way the government is enforcing it's laws, do
>I have the right to sue? I would suggest other channels should be pursued.
>If a citizen can sue, then let's make it fair and be able to sue all
>branches of the government when it is perceived the law isn't being
Now, before we get any deeper into this, it's perhaps important to clarify
me mean by "sue." This means simply to file suit. The person(s) filing suit
not doing so to receive a cash settlement (the way a person might sue, say,
company for negligence). Instead, they're filing suit in the hope that a
court judge will render a judgment forcing the federal agency to adhere to
law. The organization filing suit does not receive a cash settlement
they may be reimbursed for attorney's fees should the judge rule in their
favor). All they want is for the law to be enforced. Or, in the case of
endangered species lawsuits, for USFWS or NMFS to propose a listing, make a
final ruling on a listing, or propose or rule on critical habitat
>How about if I sue my local police department because laws are being broken
>by motorists who are speeding and I feel endangered as a result?
That's a funny concept...but a poor analogy. You can't sue the police dept.
because motorists speed. However, you could conceivably sue the police dept.
they were willfully ignoring their duty to enforce the speed limit, or any
law that comes under their jurisdiction.
>I don't think suing the federal government is the most appropriate or
>most effective channel for this fight.
Then what's the point of having a federal law if you can't trust the gov't
enforce it? Shouldn't the gov't be enforcing the law in the first place?
I agree: if the law sucks, or if it's flawed, then it should be repealed or
changed by an act of Congress.
Aye, but there's the rub. Although present-day Republicans hate the ESA as
currently written, they are loathe to get rid of it, or to gut it, for fear
public-relations backlash. Their most politically expedient alternative is
make it difficult for Fish & Wildlife to adequately enforce the law by
its endangered species budget. Actually, this was going on in the Clinton
Administration, too, so it's not fair to blame Bush for all of it. What's
particuarly irksome about the Bush proposal, though, is that it removes the
private citizen from the equation and puts the onus wholly on the gov't (an
odd turnabout for a Republican!). And since the Bush administration wants to
do little or nothing about endangered species, it's seeking to remove the
annoyance of them damn tree-huggers and whale-kissers from forcing them to
For conservationists, this is not good news. Nearly every important move to
protect endangered species, from Pacific salmon to Alabama sturgeon to
Hole pupfish, has originated *not* with the gov't, but with citizen
lawsuits. Remove these private efforts from the picture, and some of the
greatest environmental triumphs of the 20th centurey would not have
one person noted, the Bush "administration has pulled up the drawbridge on
In all fairness, the Bush administration (as was the Clinton administration)
beseiged with such lawsuits, for a number of reasons, not the least of which
the lack of funding and political courage to enforce the ESA. A moratorirum
them is one way to catch up on the backlog. But is it fair to devalue the
of citizens and courts in a democracy just to get one's house in order?
a better solution be to increase the endangered species budget? The USFWS
it needs $80-$120 over the next 5 years to handle both old and new listings.
the Bush admin. is giving them around $6.3 million for FY 2001.
It's a political mess, to be sure, with everyone -- including the
environmentalists -- putting their own spin on it. But removing the ability
you, or me, or anyone, to sue the gov't over non-enforcement of the ESA lets
few power brokers in Washington decide which species, if any, get protected.
Now THAT'S a scary thought for anyone who loves nature and values
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/----------------------------------------------------------------------------- /"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily / reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes / Association" / This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association / nanfa_at_aquaria.net. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word / subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to / nanfa-request_at_aquaria.net. For a digest version, send the command to / nanfa-digest-request_at_aquaria.net instead. / For more information about NANFA, visit our web page, http://www.nanfa.org