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MORRISON: The case of the endangered jumping mouse
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
By Joyce Morrison (email@example.com)
OPINION -- With a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous smile, from her wheelchair Miss Lydia would bid visitors departing the nursing home with her standard phrase of "I’ll be suing you."
Miss Lydia is not senile. She is sound of mind and very well read. She explains that we choose to blame others for everything and fail to be responsible for our own actions. She says our nation is being ruined by frivolous lawsuits.
Miss Lydia is right. Some choose to make lawsuits a vocation. Frivolous law suits bog the courts while awarding ridiculous settlements for no more than our clumsiness of spilling hot coffee, our smoking habit and now the latest - obesity. The money to pay these exorbitant awards has to come from somewhere.
Lawsuits against government agencies are totally out of control when it comes to the environmental groups using the courts to get their way.
"Subsidized by federal tax dollars, environmental groups are filing a blizzard of lawsuits that no longer yield significant gain for the environment and sometimes infuriate federal judges and the Justice Department. During the 1990s, the U.S. Treasury paid $31.6 million in legal fees for environmental cases filed against the government," said Tom Knudson, who wrote a series of excellent informative articles in April of 2001 for the Sacramento Bee.
Government agencies find themselves being sued by environmental groups on a regular basis. They often give in to the pressure rather than to spend their agency’s time and money fighting a frivolous lawsuit. The environmentalists have created a governing body within the government called NGO’s or Non-Governmental Organizations. They are very rich and powerful.
The Clinton Administration seemed to look favorably on this way to govern. It is a device by which extreme environmentalists could use to their advantage to get their agenda’s promoted.
Former Vice President Al Gore is an extreme environmentalist. The public at large is unaware that these policies work like a computer virus worm and burrow into virtually every system of our government. When will enough damage be done to cause a major crash?
The Sierra Club and the other environmental groups file a lot of lawsuits against the government. The one the Sierra Club filed with the U.S. Court of Appeal in the Tenth Circuit on April 19, 2002 against the U.S. Department of Energy, Secretary of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is especially revealing.
In 1951, the United States acquired the Rocky Flats facility near Boulder, CO. From 1951 to 1992, the facility processed plutonium and produced nuclear warhead triggers. They purchased more surface area and the buffer around the plant facilities was 6,500 acres.
A company that operated a gravel pit owned the subsurface mineral rights. West of the plant is a buffer zone not accessible to the general public and declared untouched and pristine.
In 1998, the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse was listed as an endangered species and this area was one of the mouse's many habitats.
The Department of Energy issued a road easement to the company holding the mineral rights. The Sierra Club filed an action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers, alleging they failed to take necessary steps to protect valuable wetlands, open space and habitat for the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse. The complaint contained eight claims.
Sierra Club accuse the DOE and the Corps of Engineers of not complying with NEPA regulations which is the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
But this same little mouse has also caused headaches in Wyoming and Colorado. Wyoming's Governor Dave Freudenthal decided to get to the truth of the matter and ordered a study of the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse to see if it really was endangered as the Endangered Species Act list showed.
On December 18, 2003, Governor Freudenthal released information that Wyoming had paid $61,430 to fund the study and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife kicked in an additional $20,000 and according to DNA results, these mice were not in short supply but were actually abundant.
"The DNA work shows that the mouse they called Preble’s is actually part of a healthy population of mice throughout the northern plains," said state Department of Agriculture John Etchepare. "Even better is that the habitat is in great shape from Montana to Colorado."
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the Endangered Species Act, refused to remove the mouse from the Endangered Species list in spite of the research Wyoming Governor Freudenthal released that would prove the mouse not to be endangered.
"It is unfortunate that the mouse could be originally listed using such poor and unsubstantiated information," said Vern Stelter, a habitat protection biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "The fact that this mouse was listed at all is a clear call for revised federal policy to ensure that endangered species actions are more supportable and science-based in the future."
In a nutshell, the Sierra Club is suing government agencies over the protection of a mouse that does not need protecting. Hundreds of thousands of your dollars have been spent in litigation as well as the economic impact of protecting the designated areas of the habitat of this mouse. They have proven the mouse was not an endangered species in the first place, but the US Fish and Wildlife will not de-list this mouse. Why?
It was a mouse in this case, but in Illinois and other locations it has been snail darters, minnows, sand fleas, cave bugs and all kinds of critters that may not even be endangered but the land that is supposed to be their habitat is controlled.
Senator Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming), has introduced legislation in Congress that would require DNA evidence before a listing petition is granted.
"It's all about power and the trophy," said Kay Goode, assistant field supervisor for endangered species at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Sacramento, which has been sued so often
that employees call it "litigation central."
Lawsuits and studies are required for a de-listing of an endangered species. Shouldn’t the same stringent measures be required in the listing of a species?
Our current administration has been trying to bring balance back into the caring for our environment. Extremists are very upset and accuse President Bush of being anti-environmental, which is far from the truth. Don’t be surprised as the presidential election draws closer you will be seeing some absurd television ads depicting President Bush as being against the environment.
It makes one wonder which government grant or lawsuit settlement will help these environmental groups pay for these ads.
What do you think Miss Lydia?
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