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James L. Buchal
Bush Administration Attacks Klamath Farmers Again
Sat Nov 1 2003 3:26:22 pm

On Friday, October 31, 2003, I received a faxed notice from the U.S. Department of Justice stating that it will appeal the District Court decision directing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to reconsider denial of a petition to delist the Klamath suckerfish. As reported at http://www.buchal.com/salmon/news/nf73.htm, the Fish & Wildlife Service refused to consider enormous increases in sucker populations (or a failure to count them properly at listing) as evidence that the fish might not be endangered after all. The listing was either a fraud or a mistake, and there is not a shred of evidence that these fish, like most of the other fish listed in the Pacific Northwest, are endangered at all. (So many “endangered” salmon are now returning to Northwest hatcheries that they are being ground up, barged out to sea, and dumped by the ton.)

All that the District Court’s order required the Service to do was conduct a status review of the suckers. Such a review is long overdue since the Service claims, in substance, that it has no accurate population estimates for the suckers, even though it has been fifteen years (and millions of dollars in studies) since the 1988 listings.

By appealing the District Court’s decision, the Bush Administration can maintain the bogus listing for at least a couple more years, slowly grinding the farmers down with one demand after another, all based on a false predicate for the assertion of federal power under the Endangered Species Act.

This is the sort of behavior one might expect from a Clinton/Gore Administration, not Republicans. Yet it is no accident, as the Bush Justice Department attacks natural resource users over and over and over again. Also on Friday, I learned that the Bush Justice Department will make extraordinary efforts to lock gold miners out of a case brought by environmentalists to shut them down, so that they might not even be heard in Court at all. A week ago I learned that the Bush Justice Department will ask a court to excuse it from even responding to a lawsuit brought by irrigators challenging the idiotic conclusion that Columbia and Snake River dams are wiping out Pacific Northwest salmon, while in a related case, the Justice Department does not object to allowing environmentalists to file additional briefs demanding even higher salmon spending.

When environmentalists sue the Bush Administration, the Justice Department tries to hold hands with them and sing Kumbaya. When natural resource interests sue the Bush Administration, the Administration kicks them in the nuts. Watch what they do, not what they say.

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