Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Do we Really Need the Animals in a Coporatocracy?

Cross-posted at My Left Wing, BlueSunbelt, and Diatribune

This is an urgent call to action, people.

We all know that George W. Bush has an ungodly, unconscionable irreverence for life - except his own of course… and those of his Pioneers, Rangers, corporate cronies and the rest of his precious "have mores." He's demonstrated that blasphemous loathing over and over again, i.e., his "we don't do body counts" collateral damage in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his blatant disregard for basic civil and human rights. All that is old news by now. But, as it turns out, his campaign of sacrilege is spreading beyond mere humans and something-less-than-human detainees.

Up until now, I never realized the true depth of his contempt for the natural world. And, I'm not talking about U.S. held, habeas corpus'less terr'ists at Gitmo either. It seems "the decider" has sought to broaden his unholy war powers to extend over the animal kingdom as well.

Somehow, I just can't shake this horrible image of Dick Cheney with a couple of lawyer friends in tow; all dressed in buckskin, totin' trusty Winchesters -- hiding behind a rise somewhere in Wyoming -- waiting for a herd of buffalo to come lumbering by so they can shoot and kill the unwitting beasts just for the sport of it. (or, lack of it)

But, I digress.

The one good thing that could possibly come out of this coming national biological atrocity is that it just may just evoke something deep in the core of the American psyche itself. People in this country -- including the forsaken 29% lemming population - might suddenly realize how truly evil the Bush crime syndicate really is.

Alas, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Bush's bold, new (mis)direction is maneuvering behind-the-scenes to -decimate- "restructure" the Endangered Species Act. The Bush administration's proposal will decimate the natural world in the U.S.; weakening its fundamental protections, and its very reason for existence. It is the most radical change ever proposed to the act since its inception in 1973.

I felt physically ill when I read the new Salon.com article. If you're an animal lover like me, you'll be sickened too.

From the article:

March 27, 2007 | The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is maneuvering to fundamentally weaken the Endangered Species Act, its strategy laid out in an internal 117-page draft proposal obtained by Salon. The proposed changes limit the number of species that can be protected and curtail the acres of wildlife habitat to be preserved. It shifts authority to enforce the act from the federal government to the states, and it dilutes legal barriers that protect habitat from sprawl, logging or mining.

"The proposed changes fundamentally gut the intent of the Endangered Species Act," says Jan Hasselman, a Seattle attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, who helped Salon interpret the proposal. "This is a no-holds-barred end run around one of America's most popular environmental protections. If these regulations stand up, the act will no longer provide a safety net for animals and plants on the brink of extinction."

(emphasize mine)

And, just like every other unethical, illegal or immoral act committed by this administration (that eventually comes to light) -- it gets worse folks. Now BushCo's trying to hide what they're doing over at the once powerful advocate for the country's native mammals, birds and fish. Yes, America's proud, taxpayer-funded Fish and Wildlife Service has become nothing short of a corporate extension of the Bush crime syndicate.

Whether it's ecological, biological or sociological, BushCo is destroying life -- as we know it on Planet Earth -- faster than nature can replenish it.

More from the article:

In recent months, the Fish and Wildlife Service has gone to extraordinary efforts to keep drafts of regulatory changes from the public. All copies of the working document were given a number corresponding to a person, so that leaked copies could be traced to that individual. An e-mail sent in March from an assistant regional director at the Fish and Wildlife Service to agency staff, asking for comments on and corrections to the first draft, underscored the concern with secrecy: "Please Keep close hold for now. Dale [Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] does not want this stuff leaking out to stir up discontent based on speculation."

Many Fish and Wildlife Service employees believe the draft is not based on "defensible science," says a federal employee who asked to remain anonymous. Yet "there is genuine fear of retaliation for communicating that to the media. People are afraid for their jobs."

Chris Tollefson, a spokesperson for the service, says that while it's accurate to characterize the agency as trying to keep the draft under wraps, the agency has every intention of communicating with the public about the proposed changes; the draft just hasn't been ready. And, he adds, it could still be changed as part of a forthcoming formal review process.

Yeah, I almost believe that. Yeah right. It's just another case of keeping in secrecy what should never be happening in the first place. It falls into the category of the Bush administration's infamous weekly Friday night document dumps, and the myriad of secret, Patriot Act enabling "war on terr'er" programs and other CIA black'ops plans that they've "meant to disclose" to both the American people and Congress over the past 6-years.

We all know such tactics are for the sole purpose of spin control. Every administration since the birth of the daily White House press briefing, used them in opportunistic ways. But the Bush administration has redefined the word "opportunistic."

Kieran Suckling, policy director of the national environmental group, Center for Biological Diversity got it right:

"This administration will often release a 300-page-long document at a press conference for a newspaper story that will go to press in two hours, giving the media or public no opportunity to digest it and figure out what's going on," Suckling says. "[Interior Secretary Dirk] Kempthorne will give a feel-good quote about how the new regulations are good for the environment, and they can win the public relations war."

Under Bush's delusional reign, the administration has granted a relative scant number of animal species the benevolent "endangered" status; by far, less than three previous administrations. Clinton had the most, (521) Regan was second (253) and H.W. Bush had (234.)

Even more stunning is the fact that almost half of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees asked, (1400 service biologists, ecologists and botanists) who are working with threatened species, said they were directed by their superiors to simply disregard scientific evidence resulting in recommendations for species protection. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit organization, conducted the survey.

"We are not allowed to be honest and forthright, we are expected to rubber stamp everything," wrote a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist as part of the survey. "I have 20 years of federal service in this and this is the worst it has ever been."

But, in typical Bushbot fashion, Mr. Tollefson defended the new proposals by saying the agency has long seen a need to improve the act. "This is a look at what's possible. Too much of our time as an agency is spent responding to litigation rather than working on recovering the species that are most in need. The current way the act is run creates disincentives for people to get involved with recovering species."

Current Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has been an outspoken critic of the act. As a U.S. senator from Idaho in the late 1990's, he championed legislation that would have allowed government agencies to exempt their actions from the act's regulations, and would have required federal agents to conduct cost-benefit analyses when considering whether to list a species as endangered.

Even after the legislation failed, Kempthorne commented that "I really believe that we can make improvements to the act itself." Apparently, the secretary is keeping good on his promise. The proposed draft is littered with language lifted directly from both Kempthorne's 1998 legislation as well as from a contentious bill by former Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif. (which was also shot down by Congress). It's "a wish list of regulations that the administration and its industry allies have been talking about for years," says Suckling.

Let's make no mistake about it, folks. The changes, even though seemingly subtle in nature, generally will strip the Fish and Wildlife Service of its power to perform its stated goal: to protect wildlife. Most of the new provisions are direct concessions to big business and their surrogates at the governorship level who've long complained that the act degrades state economies by prohibiting natural resource extraction.

Well, no kidding. Wasn't that the stated purpose of conservation initiatives in general… to prohibit the exploitation of our environment for profit by big business? One change in particular would significantly limit the number of species eligible for "endangered" status. Right now, if it is likely that a species becomes extinct in "the foreseeable future, (a species-specific timeframe that can stretch for a period of time up to 300-years) it's automatically a candidate for act protections.

However, new rules scale back that timeline to mean either 20-years or 10-generations. (the choice is left up to the agency) As far as certain animal species with long life spans, such as killer whales, grizzly bears and wolves, and others, two-decades doesn't even cover one generation. So, despite being in danger of extinction, those species would never make the list in time to save them.

"It makes absolutely no sense biologically," wrote Hasselman in an e-mail. "One of the Act's weaknesses is that species aren't protected until they're already in trouble and this proposal puts that flaw on steroids."

The sad truth is, gutting the Endangered Species Act signed into law by Richard M. Nixon - no spotted owl fan he, it's safe to say - will only darken further the already aphotic shadow hanging over the Fish and Wildlife Service for the past 6-years. The Bush administration doesn't want the act to be effective. The profits of the administration's big business benefactors languish with regulations. Their bottom line suffers. (along with their donations to the Republican Party.)

This makes me sick, folks. The rest of the gory details are in the very informative Salon.com article.

Please read all of it. It's a must read. After you finish reading it, get freakin' angry! Shed a few tears as I have, and then send a message to Washington. Call or write your senators (contact info here, committee info here) and congressional representatives here. Also, (House Committee info, and House Leadership) Let `em have it. Tell them to stop supporting the corporate stewardship, the pillaging of our land and the helpless victims of their unmitigated greed and esurient lust for profit. Contact Earthjustice and/or the Center for Biological Diversity and offer to help.

These are the only ways to make a difference. As disheartening as it is to learn of, this information is essential knowledge if we are to fight back against this behind-the-scenes manipulation of nature, and ongoing egregious violations of the public trust.

Look, I realize we have a lot of other things going on, a lot of enormously important things inside and out of this country, but, in my estimation, this is no less an existential threat to our future… our children's future, and our collective fate on this planet.

We need the animals and the pristine environment in which they live - even if the Bush administration doesn't know it.


Catreona said...

I've been reading for months if not years about this administration's attempts to keep government scientists at Fish and Wildlife and elsewhere from doing their jobs.

In other words, this is attrocious but hardly surprising.

Flirtin with Disaster said...

Nothing this administration does surprises me anymore.