One long-standing myth is that any law claiming to be good for the environment is actually good for the environment. Anyone living along levees in the South who watched environmental lawsuits block improvements in the 1990s and then heard the Army Corps of Engineers criticized after Hurricane Katrina for not previously making improvements had to wonder why the media didn't cover one obvious source of blame for the entire region not being more resistant to floods.
No, instead we got treated to Sean Penn carrying a shotgun, apparently to mow down the zombies the media claimed were floating in New Orleans and everyone blamed Pres. George Bush because the tropical storm turned into a hurricane.
Here in California, wildfires became something of a running joke about environmentalists in the early 2000s. They are rather easy to mitigate; you clear out dead brush and dead trees and make fire breaks. When wildfires blazed through much of California a few years ago, who got the blame? The government - because the government was supposedly in bed with Big Logging every time state biologists tried to make a plan to prevent raging fires that belch pollutants into the air.
Most recently, environmental laws are keeping a rare High Sierra fish from being able to recover. I am talking about the Paiute cutthroat trout. Ordinarily I would not worry too much about one fish; the supposed slippery slope of ecological doom that will happen if any species dies - thousands of species go extinct every day without ever even being discovered - doesn't apply to taxes or progressive cultural issues so it strikes me as the usual partisan stuff when it's claimed about an obscure fish.
In this instance, I have to write because the Federal government and the State want to restore the fish, they even have a plan to restore this rare fish to its historical range, but they can't. The law is the law and the badly written Wilderness Act says the auger that would be needed to do so, which can only be powered by a gasoline-powered generator since there are no power lines there...can't be used in designated wilderness areas.
Federal biologists know it's goofy, so do state ones. Maybe even U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. knows it is goofy but, let's be honest, no judge is getting appointed or elected in California without having the right progressive credibility so if there is any interpretation to be done, he is siding with progressives. He dutifully did, and issued a permanent injunction based on the Wilderness Act, which means the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Fish and Game are now forced to try and spend more taxpayer money on lawyers to get around the federal Wilderness Act law in order to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act and restore the Paiute cutthroat trout, which they are required to do by law.
Wilderness Watch and two other activist groups who don't understand responsible environmental stewardship sued to block the trout's restoration, claiming the use of the auger should not be exempted from the Wilderness Act and, really, denied that the project was necessary at all. The federal and government agencies stated that in order for the Paiute to survive non-native invasive fish have to be removed and that the auger was the most environmentally responsible way to do so. The ecological damage would otherwise be higher.
The judge sided with the activists and said the non-native fish have rights under the Act also and the auger was a no-go, writing in his opinion "the public interest favors preservation of the unimpaired wilderness".
Environmentalists for the win! Activism at all costs 1 - Endangered species 0.
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