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Following Cheney's Tracks through Environmental Policy:

The fourth and final installment of the Washington Post series on the Cheney Vice Presidency focuses on the role of the Vice President's office in the formulation and implementation of environmental policy. As portrayed by the Post, Cheney repeatedly intervened directly in specific environmental policy matters, such as the Klamath River Basin controversy, Yucca Mountain, and snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park, but typically "left no tracks" of his involvement.

By combining unwavering ideological positions -- such as the priority of economic interests over protected fish -- with a deep practical knowledge of the federal bureaucracy, Cheney has made an indelible mark on the administration's approach to everything from air and water quality to the preservation of national parks and forests.

He is also blamed for inducing then-EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman to resign. ["Blamed"? Isn't this something for which he should get credit?] This article may not have as much for ConLaw junkies as the series prior installments, but for those who want to see the insides of our outdoors policies, it is a must read.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Following Cheney's Tracks through Environmental Policy:
  2. Cheney and the Supreme Court Nominations Process:
LTEC (mail) (www):
My opponent has "unwavering ideological positions"; my friend, on the other hand, is deeply committed to his principles.
6.27.2007 1:58pm
EH:
If compromise can be said to be a hallmark of American political culture (or politics in general), both "unwavering ideological positions" and "deeply committed principles" are undesirable qualities to have in a leader. Even if the compromise angle doesn't hold, history tells us that principles are what people die over and do not have a long shelf life of their own. Principles are not flexible, and the same goes for unwavering ideology.
6.27.2007 2:33pm
whackjobbbb:
This was a pretty disengenuous article, and introduces a "red salmon"... as it were. Coho and chinook salmon are not "endangered". Habitat is important, no doubt, but it's the longterm habitat condition that is critical, not the temporary condition during a drought. We plant these fish in the Great Lakes all the time, and the same can be done in Oregon or anywhere else, if a temporary kill occurs, whether as a result of a drought or any other reason.

In times of drought, water resources will be allocated, and the sudden cut-off of one allocation, absent due-process (as the bureaucracy did here), is not acceptable. This is the role of the executive... properly managing the bureaucracy... and managing those allocations... and that's what occurred here, apparently, even if it took place with evil Cheney's involvement.

Now, I'm all for assigning the appropriate and full costs for these water usages, which I don't believe we do a good job on, but as for trashing an existing system on a whim... no.

I share Adler's view on Whitman. She was a fish out of water.
6.27.2007 3:01pm
Phutatorius (www):
Not a bad bit of work, Mr. Cheney . . . for a "legislator."

(sigh)

The waters of this Administration are murky and toxic. If I were a fish in them, I'd do my best to evolve a pair of legs.
6.27.2007 3:10pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
I hate to say it -- I dislike Cheney and his policies intensely and think he has beeen very very bad for the nation -- but my reaction to the article was "So what?"

He plays politics -- but then again he is in politics. If Al Gore had called someone deep down in the bureaucracy to ask a question, thus practically influencing a decision simply by making lower-level staff (not that the "19th-ranking Interior Department official" is low-level) aware of his interest in an issue, I would probably say "Fine."

Am I missing something? Is there something illegal/improper about that sort of communication outside the strict chain of command? Is it "undue influence" on an underling? I guess in the military it would be improper except in a field emergency. No? But a civilian organization is not the military and free-flow of information should be encouraged every which way.

If it is simply "not done" because of some sort of gentleman's agreement about "working through channels" then I am not so impressed.
6.27.2007 3:39pm
Crust (mail):
David Sucher, clearly there is nothing illegal in asking a question directly of relatively low-level staff (and I would put the 19th-ranking Interior official in that category).

Indeed I would even say doing so is a good thing, although the appropriate way to do it is to also let people higher in the chain know that you are doing so.

This was not the only instance. E.g. this is parallel to getting Yoo involved in writing memos in the OVP without informing Ashcroft et al. And this apparently wasn't a matter of simple negligence on Cheney's part, but rather a pattern of deliberately keeping other senior people in the dark.

That I would say is improper, though your mileage may vary, depending in part on what you mean by "improper". Certainly if we take improper as a synonym for illegal as seems to be the fashion of late (witness the Gonzales discussions) then that changes things.
6.27.2007 5:26pm
Crust (mail):
Jonathan Adler:

'He is also blamed for inducing then-EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman to resign. ["Blamed"? Isn't this something for which he should get credit?]'

"Blamed" is your own choice of word not that of Becker and Gellman, so it's a little strange that you object to it. (Or do the square brackets indicate the reaction of a different VConspirator?)

The article describes the resignation neutrally without the normative connotation of blame you impute. Here are the two complete quotes on the matter:

But as with Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, another longtime friend who owed his Cabinet post to Cheney, Whitman's differences with the vice president would lead to her departure.

and:

Whitman had already announced her resignation, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family. But the real reason, she said, was the new rule.
6.27.2007 5:39pm
courtwatcher:
Whackjobbbb says that "oho and chinook salmon are not 'endangered.'" Well, no. It's settled law that a "distinct population segment" of a species may be classified as endangered. And some populations of coho and chinook have been listed, so they are "endangered" (or in some cases, "threatened"). You may not believe they are endangered, but as a matter of law, you're incorrect to say those populations aren't endangered. There's nothing disingenuous about the reporters treating the law the same way the agencies and courts do. And there's everything wrong with the Vice President requiring agencies not to follow the mandate of Congress to use the best available science to protect the species. If someone doesn't think the species should be listed, the rulemaking process is the way to change these designations. In the end, many of the administration's attempts to interfere with agency decisionmaking have led to decisions that have been found by courts to violate the APA, Endangered Species Act, and other federal laws. I don't see how Cheney's actions here -- which involved ignoring the ESA's actual requirements and the expertise of the agency, which is a primary basis for courts' deference to agency action -- are defensible in a nation that is supposed to be governed by the rule of law.
6.27.2007 7:57pm
courtwatcher:
Prof. Adler,
Since the EPA's power is conferred and limited by Congress and courts typically defer to agencies' judgments on the basis of their presumed expertise, and since Congress vests the agency's powers in the "Administrator," do you really believe that it is more important, as you say in your NRO article, for the Administrator to avoid being "off-message" rather than to defer herself to the scientific expertise of career scientists and experienced policy analysts? If so, why is that more important?
6.27.2007 8:02pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Courtwatcher --

A few quick points. First, the basis for Chevron deference to agencies is not their expertise, but the fact that Congress has delegated such policy judgments to agencies. Insofar as statutory delegations leave policy judgments to the EPA, they should be made consistent with the policy preferences of the administration in office (within statutory limits, of course). Agency experience and scientific expertise can inform policy judgments, but it does not -- indeed cannot -- determine what policies should be pursued in the first place, as policy choices ultimately involve normative judgments.

Whitman's problem was not that she deferred to the scientific expertise of career bureaucrats, but that she deferred to their policy preferences, rather than the policy preferences of the administration. As a result, she often found herself working at cross purposes with the White House. It also did not help that she was a relative neophyte when it came to environmental policy, so she was often in over her head in policy discussions.

JHA

JHA
6.27.2007 10:47pm
whackjobbbb:
courtwatcher,

Yes, and the Florida panther is one of those that we treat in that manner, even though it's not genetically distinct from any other cat in NA, and in fact it's been cut off from the gene pool, shows some deformations as a result (crooked tail, etc.). Should they be treated as unique? And is there truly a "unique population segment" of coho and chinook in that reach of river in Oregon? (and one unavailable elsewhere, for restocking after the temporary drought passed). That article didn't say any of this, so I'm asking you.

Your interpreatation is that one segment of the bureaucracy makes the final call, and shuts off the water. My experience with regulatory agencies is that's almost never the case, and it'd be foolish to think it should or ever would be. The other day, I seem to have read of a court case where the Supremes I believe, or maybe a lower, had to mediate a dispute between 2 Fed agencies as to who had the final regulatory call. Adler may provide better explanation, but in any event, the children were fighting, much the same way they seemed to be fighting in Oregon in this case, and the courts had to separate them. This time in Oregon, the executive settled the argument... did his job in other words. The court didn't step in here, so the evil Cheney cabal musta done the right thing, and "governed by the rule of law" as you mentioned, or perhaps you disagree?
6.28.2007 12:19am
Mark Bahner (www):
This is a bit outside my field (which hasn't stopped me before ;-)) but it's hard for me to believe the fish kill could not have been greatly minimized through some clever engineering (and millions of dollars).

There ought to be a way to lower water temperature and increase dissolved oxygen levels such that even with a much lower river water level, the fish would still survive.

For example, it seems like essentially giant water fountains could be installed and operated at night, so that the water temperature goes down and dissolved oxygen levels go up.
6.28.2007 12:32am
whackjobbbb:
Very expensive as you mention, Mark, as applied to an entire watercourse. I've never seen that done, but maybe someone else has. And if you spray water you'll have some evaporative cooling, no doubt, but you're losing water in that evaporation, and scarce water is the crux of the problem to begin with. The system requires a complex set of DO, temp and water velocity and depth, as I understand, for proper fish habitat. If you monkey with the hydraulics (as irrigation invariably will), you monkey with those parameters, and mediating that just seems expensive. As I understand, the Colorado River runs out in the Mexican desert somewhere... they use all of it and it don't even make it to the ocean. Sad, if true, because no fish are living there I bet.

Heck, just restock the fish after the drought, and make the farmers pay for it. Everybody's happy.
6.28.2007 1:20am
David Sucher (mail) (www):
OK, I guess that I have not understood the gravity of what Cheney has been doing.
I guess talking to a lower-level official may be OK.
But the guy still needs to go:
Bruce Fein calls for Cheney impeachment.
http://www.slate.com/id/2169292/nav/tap1/

That strikes me as worth noting.
6.28.2007 11:57am
JosephSlater (mail):
Wow, that Fein article is powerful, especially considering his conservative credentials.

Of course some Repubs think the best thing for the party would be to get rid of Cheney in some way.
6.28.2007 12:25pm
whackjobbbb:
That's all just whining. Fein's laundry list appears to all be executive actions, with Cheney acting for the executive. If you want to "impeach" the VP for acting for the executive with the executive's approval, then maybe we shoulda impeached Wilson's wife for acting for the executive with the executive's approval (and maybe not with it as we know).

If there are impeachable offenses, it's Bush who has to go.

Now as for Cheney making some technical declaration of which multiple branches he does or does not belong to, he's got his hands full explaining that one, I'd say.
6.28.2007 3:22pm
Crust (mail):
Jonathan Adler:

It's a nitpick, but could you explain the "blamed" bit? Normally one uses quotation marks for, you know, quotations. But not only is that not a quotation, it's not even an accurate paraphrase. The objection you raise is to the article you expected to read, but not to the article as written. (Or maybe you were playing a Kaus game by objecting to yourself?)

I agree with David Sucher and JosephSlater, that Fein piece is powerful.
6.28.2007 3:23pm
whackjobbbb:
OK, courtwatcher, I just reviewed the websites for the Klamath areas, and the disingenuousness of that article is even more profound than I thought.

The 2 species in question that you referenced as "endangered" are the 2 sucker fish, which live in the lake. The coho salmon and the chinook, which live in the river downstream from the lake, are not endangered. The salmon are not listed as endangered on the Klamath website, nor in the report prepared by the National Academy of Sciences, who were sent in to review the "scientific" work of the agency (who may or may not have listed the coho as endangered... and I'm afraid to go check this... because I don't want to truly discover it, in case these bureaucrats are actually incompetent enough to have made that determination).

After the irrigation diversion, no mention is made that the endangered suckers were harmed... no mention... none. It was as it was before.

The 77,000 salmon reported washed up... these are common fish... and I can have the Michigan DNR fly out that many fry out of any hatchery here if you'd like. We could use the work.

This was a normal die off of a common fish, due to a drought condition. Invoking the ESA was a "red salmon", just as I suspected. Very disingenuous, and perhaps the writer is dumb enough not to know so, and perhaps you are too, but not all of us are so.

This is why the "environmentalists" are so mistrusted, including those parked forever in the bureaucratic agencies, and why we in the engineering community view them with such disdain, even as we do the heavy lifting to enhance water and environmental quality in this country.

The environmental zealots are manipulative, and they prey on the public's lack of knowledge... and hope that the public will jerk their knees whenever the name of some little critter is invoked. I'm all the way down with the little critters, but there are many things to consider in these cases, including the economic interests of those in that area. Ultimately, the Academy considered all those, the suckers survived the drought condition, and I'm sure that the (common) salmon will thrive, and likely are even now... 6 years later... even without a restocking effort.

Cheney may be evil, but he was right-on here. And we can put another black mark next to all the preening "environmentalists".
6.28.2007 7:15pm
Francis (mail):
Readers here may be shocked to find out that whackjobbb's statement of facts is, well, not entirely accurate.

The fish kill was largely chinook, which is not listed, but included coho, which is. The Southern Oregon/Northern California ESU of coho was listed in 1997.

In 2003 a federal district court invalidated the bio. opinion issued by USFWS/NMFS to Bu Rec regarding Reclamation's operation of the Klamath irrigation project,, and the appellate court expanded the grounds for invalidating the bio. opinion. PCFFA v. BuRec. 426 F3d 1082 (9th Cir. 2005)

A NMFS staff scientist, one Michael Kelly, has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging that senior administration officials wholly rewrote the sections of the bio opinion that were ultimately invalidated without any scientific basis for doing so, but did it to satisfy Reclamation which was under adminstration orders to deliver water to the Klamath Basin farmers.

There's a big difference between a legitimate policy dispute and violating the ESA. Even this administration is subject to the rule of law.
6.28.2007 11:16pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Crust --

I wasn't criticizing the article, and I don't think I misrepresented it. I was just suggesting that whether Cheney deserved "blame" or "credit" for Whitman's departure would depend on whether one viewed her departure as a bad or good thing.

JHA
6.28.2007 11:32pm
Randy R. (mail):
Well, I'm an admitted Cheney hater, and I read the article. Even in my skewed perspective, the article still seemed to show Cheney and the Republican party as a stereotypical white man who is anti-environmental laws, and pro business whatever it takes.

He isn't even trying to appear like he wants to protect the environment. Welcome to the new world of conservatism. And, as the NY Times recently showed that most young people are turning out to be liberals when it comes to gay marriage and the environment, we can now welcome in the new permanent majority of Democrats....
6.29.2007 2:02am
courtwatcher:
Prof. Adler,
Thanks for taking the time to respond. I do understand the basis for Chevron deference. Nonetheless, as you know, courts defer to agencies' factual scientific determinations (in contrast to statute-construing policy judgments) in large part because of their expertise -- that isn't a Chevron question. And my impression is that much (certainly not all) of what the WH has been accused of, and at least part of why Whitman was at odds with the WH, was that the agency's scientific findings were being changed by non-scientists, with no scientific basis, to justify policy judgments (see her quotes, and other evidence, in the WaPost article as well as this month's Rolling Stone article on a similar topic -- climate change, Klamath water, etc.). So perhaps the dichotomy I posed (President's agenda vs. agency experts' scientific findings) was not well thought-out, since clearly if the science can be used to support multiple possible policy judgments, I agree that the EPA must tow the administration line on policy. But to the extent that Whitman's problem was not just a policy disagreement with the WH, but a well-founded belief that the WH was altering or hiding the agency's scientific conclusions in order to justify their policies, would it have really been right for her to go along with that? Or do you just disagree with the premise that the WH was altering or hiding the science?
6.29.2007 4:30am
courtwatcher:
Whackjobbb,
You clearly have a very sincere belief that certain species listed as "endangered" are not endangered, as well as evident disdain for the work of the federal agencies that are responsible for protecting those species, both in their ability to make sound scientific findings and in their ability to make sound regulations construing the statute. What's not clear to me is why you think any of those beliefs of yours, even if accurate, have any legal relevance. Perhaps one day Congress, which has never objected to the agency's rules on listing, will change the statute to make clear that you are correct in your view that units smaller than a species should not be able to be listed under the ESA. Or perhaps the WH will force FWS to rewrite its regulations to change this. Or perhaps you believe that the ESA should be rewritten so that it is no longer administered by an agency at all. Or perhaps the Supremes will overrule Chevron someday and agencies' power to write regulations that courts (and engineers) don't like will be curtailed. But that's not the state we live in now.
6.29.2007 4:46am
Randy R. (mail):
courtwatcher:" if the science can be used to support multiple possible policy judgments, I agree that the EPA must tow the administration line on policy"

If protecting the environment is only one of possible outcomes for any particular policy judgement, then we shouldn't call it the Environmental Protection Agency.

Perhaps the Environmental Review Agency would be more appropriate. That way, people wouldn't think that it is actually set up to protect to the environment.
6.29.2007 11:13am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
courtwatcher:

First, you're giving Whitman too much credit. She's a total lightweighton these issues.

Second, the major points of disagreement were policy disputes -- such as whether to support a 4-pollutant utility emissions bill, what NSR reforms to make, whether to try and engage the Kyoto process -- not scientific disputes.

Third, I have not yet read the new Rolling Stone article on the Bush Administration, but their prior efforts on this subject by RFK Jr. were laughably inaccurate. See my critique here, and the subesequent exchange here.

JHA
6.29.2007 11:18am
Crust (mail):
Prof. Adler, thank you for the reply. You write:

[W]hether Cheney deserved "blame" or "credit" for Whitman's departure would depend on whether one viewed her departure as a bad or good thing.

For sure. But as I pointed out, the WaPo article reserved judgment on whether her departure was a good or a bad thing.

And I think the plainest reading of what you originally wrote is the (false) assertion that they said this was a bad thing. But since you now say you weren't actually criticizing the argument, I guess you were instead having a Kausian debate with yourself about whether this was a good or bad thing (and therefore deserving of credit or blame).

But I think this rather small horse has already suffered enough from my flogging.
6.29.2007 11:55am
Crust (mail):
Randy R.:

[Cheney] isn't even trying to appear like he wants to protect the environment.

Probably true of Cheney as an individual. Indeed, as far as the general public is concerned, he does his best not to appear at all. But for the "compassionate conservative" administration as a whole, they do try to project an image of wanting to protect the environment. Remember the "Healthy Forests Initiative"?
6.29.2007 12:00pm
whackjobbbb:
Sorry, Francis (or courtwatcher), but the coho were not listed as "endangered" in 2001, nor are they listed as "endangered" today. If you disagree, provide source for your contention. As mentioned, I reviewed the Klamath websites, and the Academy reports, and it ain't listed in either. Until you demonstrate otherwise, your statement that the coho were/are "endangered" is false. Thus the disingenuous nature of this article.

You can reference any court opinion you want, dealing with any number of issues, some of which might even have the words "Klamath" and "coho" in them. That doesn't make those cases relevant to the issue of whether these fish were "endangered". They were/are not... and again, you better provide a link backing up your contention... or my assessment of you will move from "disingenuous" to something far more harsh.

There is no room for this type of shenanigans in the technical community, my friends. The water resources and environment of this country are far too important to leave them to manipulative poseurs.

That court opinion dealt with many things in that hydrological system, including the interests of the fishing industry far downstream. The opinion wasn't a specific rejection of the irrigation diversion, nor an embrace of the ESA invocation that the "environmentalists" disingenuously introduced, that of "endangered".

And tell me, is that irrigation water flowing today? If it's so horrendously wrong, it shouldn't be, right?

The courts opinion (and the Academy's reports) dealt with much, including area habitat, which is the prime issue, and not just the temporary drought condition. Habitat is the key for any system. The Academy's reports pushed for exactly that. You develop proper habitat, and the system will survive the stresses of drought and other stressful conditions, even if a few common fish like these coho die off. They system will survive and reproduce. In balance with that, evil Cheney was working to have regional economic interests survive and reproduce, and not be summarily dismissed by some faceless bureaucrats.

Do you not understand that having a mass of people showing up at that overflow weir with cutting torches in-hand, confronting law enforcement, represents the significant level of economic dislodgement in play here? Do you not understand due-process?

The measure of the disingenuousness here is that the coho were/are fished recreationally and I believe commercially in that area. Further, even the endangered SUCKERS were fished (and perhaps still are) on that lake. Now you tell me, if even the truly ENDANGERED fish are being fished, how is it that you're suddenly fantasizing an "endangered" status for the coho? Link, please. Do it, prove your case. I won't dismiss your position if you can make it, but you haven't made it.

Your whistleblower better take up his arguments with the Academy, who have revised their work, but left most of it intact, so the evil Dick Cheney musta applied his evil methods on those Academy professionals too, I guess. A better answer is that the whistleblower is a typical bureaucratic slug, attempting to force policy, and was called on it. I welcome that, and Cheney's clear-headed push to do so. The coho were/are not "endangered", but economic interests clearly were (and were handled in a summary fashion by incompetent bureaucrats), and that court case brought in even MORE economic interests to the party, which you've disingenuously omitted from your argument.

Those economic interests are important, and balancing those with the hydrological system in that region is a job for the executive to administer... and not environmental zealots.

Oh, and that management is best performed using input from properly qualified technical professionals... not zealotous "environmentalist".

-----

The larger issue is that we'll spend 2% of our GDP on the environment, much like other countries as I understand. The issue then is to spend that 2% wisely and efficiently, as opposed to willy nilly, as the zealots advocate here and in many other cases. If they waste it, it's not available where we qualified professionals REALLY need it, because this is truly a zero-sum game.

The other part of the issue is to grow the GDP so that the 2% share of it also grows, and we have an even greater sum to spend on our water resources and environment. Economically foolish decisions hurt the environment on BOTH ends of this equation. We waste what we have, and we preclude an increase in even that.

This is why the engineering community scorns the zealots. It is we who do the heavy lifting to enhance our environment, and the zealots hamper our efforts, as we see in this case.

---

If you want to continue the discussion, start with that link. I'm open, I'll consider all data, but you'll have to drop the disingenuousness and provide that data.
6.29.2007 12:30pm
whackjobbbb:
...oh and Francis, an "ESU" listing is not "endangered"... just to head off any more potential disingenuousness.
6.29.2007 12:40pm
Francis (mail):
wj, your research skills suck. Go to USFish and Wildlife homepage. Click on the Endangered Species link in the left column. At the Endangered Species Program page, type coho into the box labeled search species:

tada.

The SONC ESU of coho was listed as threatened on June 18, 1997. 62 Fed Reg. 33038

Or you can read the case, if your literacy skills go so far.

The bio. opinion on the operation of the Klamath project was so shoddy that the government didn't even appeal the adverse ruling. The plaintiffs appealed, on the issues raised by Kelly, and won even more than they got from the district court.

It's very interesting that you talk about due process in the context of serious law-breaking. You are well within your rights to dislike the ESA, but it remains the law of the land.
6.29.2007 2:33pm
courtwatcher:
Whackjobbb:
I was trying to make a larger point about this. But since you're so focused on the Klamath situation itself: The coho found in the Klamath area is a listed species under the ESA. That particular ESU is listed as "threatened" rather than "endangered" (as you, I'm sure, know, the protections of a "threatened" listing are similar to those of an "endangered" listing.
62 Fed. Reg. 24588
(#26)
This is well-known and has been the subject of delisting petitions and other controversies over the past few years -- since you appear to consider yourself an expert on this subject, I'm surprised you wouldn't know this and that you would not understand what Francis was talking about when he referenced this. The NAS documents you cited that are critical of the NMFS determinations include this info as well.

If you are making a semantic distinction between "threatened" and "endangered," well, up to you, but it's hard to see where that gets you since the effect of listing either way is similar and is at the heart of the inter-agency and overall controversy.

Your tone is quite uncivil in your last post, especially considering that you don't seem to have the correct information. And I still don't get why you feel that your own scientific judgment, or that of Dick Cheney, is legally relevant to this. As "conservatives" often say when reprimanding "liberals" who don't like government actions, the law is what it is, not what you want it to be. If you don't like it, get it changed. Under the current law, ESUs rather than species are the unit for anadromous fish listings under the Act, that ESU of coho is listed, courts will defer to both the reasonable regulatory actions and scientific findings of NMFS and FWS, and courts will be less deferential to agency findings that appear to ignore the science or law in the record (as seems to be happening a lot in this administration).
6.29.2007 2:43pm
courtwatcher:
Prof. Adler,
I should probably just let this lie, but since you've been indulgent enough to reply to me, I'll give it a shot: You didn't really answer my questions, whether or not Whitman was a "lightweight" or whether or not Rolling Stone publishes poor articles (though I'm not sure what the Kennedy article's shortcomings really have to do with this article by another author anyway). And I'm still curious what you think. There does appear to me to be clear evidence, from the WaPo article and from earlier sources, that the White House changed "facts" or suppressed agency science (e.g., Coomey's work on climate change) in some cases. So I'll ask again, slightly differently: To the extent that any EPA administrator has not just a policy disagreement with the WH, but a well-founded belief that the WH is altering or suppressing the agency's scientific conclusions in order to justify its policies, should the administrator go along with that? If the answer is yes, you seem to me to be contemplating a lot of necessary work by courts and the environmental advocacy groups you often deride just to sort through this, and also a likely eroding of trust in government as people lose confidence that agency science is reliable. Is that not so? And in this case, acknowledging that there also were policy disagreements, do you disagree with the premise that the WH was altering or hiding science, at least in some (significant) cases?
6.29.2007 2:59pm
courtwatcher:
Apologies -- I do think that Francis has the better citation above for the coho listing.
6.29.2007 3:02pm
whackjobbbb:
Well, those were some weak responses, which I sorta expected I guess.

Threatened is not endangered, and thus you've now passed beyond the threshold of disengenuousness, and on to willful deception.

And now, after your deception is exposed, you've moved on to semantics... more trickery. The above distinction has meaning, you knew this, because you willfully manipulated your comments accordingly, to call that coho "endangered". This is the despicable behavior that consistently puts you "environmentalists" in such a bad light.

But hey, still open to data that I am, I'm perfectly willing to listen as you provide data to support this lack of distinction between the 2 (now that we've forced you to truthfulness). Please do so. And be specific to this fish, in that reach of river.

Again, I'm open, and I'm sorry if you find my "tone" uncivil, but there is no room for the deceptions you've displayed in here. None. They will be dealt with in a very direct manner. It is you who have brought incorrect information in here... not me. Don't deceive, and this won't be necessary. Deceive, and it will be.

True environmental professionals brook no deception. If you want to be included among us... act like it.

And Francis, don't be so quick to return to your deceptive ways. The court did not throw out the report prepared by the Academy. Much/all of it is in use today as a matter of fact. And by the way, here are some relevant portions of it, concerning the fish kill that evil Cheney supposedly engineered during that drought:


Most of the dead fish were adult Chinook salmon... 33,000... The fish kill, ...did not involved many coho salmon (about 1% of the total dead fish)... ...coho...were mostly absent when conditions leading to the mass mortality occurred.

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), through an analysis of environmental conditions over 5 yr of low flow within the last 15 yr, showed that neither the flows nor the temperatures that occurred in the second half of September 2002 were unprecedented. A stufy th the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) supports this conclusion. Thus, no obvious explanation of the fish kill based on unique flow or temperature conditions is possible.



So it appears that the evil genius Cheney not only murdered the fish and got the Academy to help him cover it up, but he also pulled in the State of California and the USGS to get in on the conspiracy. So then, evil Cheney has corrupted entire states and federal government agencies. THIS MAN MUST BE STOPPED!


The coho weren't even a significant part of this for crisakes. (OT: The USGS is one of the few fed agencies that doesn't have its collective head up its collective posterior.).

I can't believe you're in here with this weak nonsense. Do you not understand what I'm speaking of with that 2% limiting figure mentioned above? Do you not understand the millions of dollars wasted here... money that's critically needed elsewhere? Do you not understand that your deceptions are harming the very thing you claim to be in favor of, and discrediting what it is you claim to be working for?

Sorry, but this was a common executive issue, managing the (incompetent) bureaucracay, and balancing competing interests among various agencies, including economic interests. And go stand in front of that weir next time, in front of those people, and then tell me economics aren't important.

Francis, again, I wouldn't be too quick referencing a court decision to support your rants. That case pulled in other economic interests, and these were an added part of it, and drove the complexity as much as anything (the court recognizes the importance of economic issues, even if you zealots don't). This certainly wasn't a case of the court throwing out the evil Cheney and the evil Academy, as you deceptively implied. But I'll be glad to work through that case with you, if you'd like. But from the looks of all this so far, digging deep into things usually exposes your methods, so you might want to avoid that.

But to start, a cursory review of that opinion, re the hydrology involved, showed the court accepted a change in the lake surface level. You can provide other departures from the Academy's report, if you'd like. I'm open to data, but you haven't provided any of consequence, or of truth.

So then, to sum up your next homework assignment: Since you first clamored to assert that these coho were "endangered", you'll now have to explain the reasoning WHY it was that distinction was so important to you, now that we've established that they're NOT endangered.

Then, point me to the clear rejections of what the Academy has and does recommend. Not blanket statement... cites.

And finally, answer the question posed above. Since you claim this irrigation is so terrifyingly, horribly wrong... is it occurring today?
6.29.2007 4:16pm
whackjobbbb:
And one more assignment... Since you're so hot on this subject, justify the current practice of recreational/commercial fishing of these species in this area... not just the coho, but the truly endangered suckers.
6.29.2007 4:27pm
Francis (mail):
why bother? you're either wilfully ignorant or debating in bad faith.

Here's the simple truth of the matter -- the bio. opinion was so bad that DOJ decided not to appeal an adverse ruling. How often does that happen?
6.29.2007 4:36pm
Colin (mail):
You're being trolled, Francis. Last time, whackjobbb was claiming to have read a classified report until someone pointed out that the report wasn't written until after whackjobbb claimed to have read it. I think it's safe to say that his factual assertions are dubious, and he doesn't seem to have any understanding of the statute--certainly not enough to justify impugning your character. He's certainly debating in bad faith; he's just throwing bombs and having a good time. Let it ride, and let him have the last word. He can certainly drag it out longer than it's worth pursuing, just by boiling over with bombast and invective. It's not worth it.
6.29.2007 4:55pm
whackjobbbb:
I see my stalker is back. I must be a very interesting guy... you seem to follow me around a lot.


--

And no answer to the question, eh Francis? We can assume there isn't one, then. If the "bio. opinion" was thrown out the window, as you claim... detail what exactly was thrown out. And then call up the State of Cali and the USGS and tell 'em they were wrong too.

Evil Cheney executed the proper executive role, and reined in an incompetent bureaucracy, which acted without the proper stakeholder involvement that the law requires. The cutting torch wielding folks at the weir are proof enough of that, assuming you'll accept reality, which you don't apparently.
6.29.2007 5:16pm
courtwatcher:
How bizarre. Next time I will know better than to engage with you. Whackjobbb, I'm done with this thread, but here's your assignment: (1) identify one place in the WaPo article in which anyone claimed, as you suggested in your original post, that the species were "endangered" (the basis of your original claim of disingenuousness); (2) identify one way in which the difference between a desigation of that ESU of coho as "endangered" rather than "threatened" would change the obligations of various federal agencies to develop a biological opinion and to recommend actions to protect the species, and to ensure that federal actions neither jeopordize the species nor adversely affect its designated critical habitat. Take a close look at section 7 of the ESA (see p. 15, sections 7(a)1() and 7(a)(2)) -- and take your time.
6.29.2007 7:21pm
whackjobbbb:
You were done a long time ago, when you ran to semantics.

I called the writer disengenuous, and pointed out the obvious, that those species were not "endangered". You followed up by saying they were. Thus, you compounded disingenuousness with deception, and were exposed for it. Now stop whining about it.

I'm not arguing the ESA. Link away, but we were beyond that point 2 days ago, when I provided the classification data for the various species, in response to your false classification for same. I simply pointed out that no "endangered" species were affected by that drought, or the irrigation diversion, contrary to your statement (and no significant numbers of "threatened" species were affected, as we know, your deceptive statements to the contrary notwithstanding).

I was arguing the writer's point, and now your's evidently, that evil Cheney violated the law and the proper executive role in managing the bureaucracy. He didn't. And nothing significant happened to any species of concern, following this appropriate management action, which was initiated by the same stakeholders who were first ignored by the incompetent bureaucracy, in clear violation of the letter and intent of the law.

Now tell me, is the irrigation water flowing today? Is evil Cheney still working his evil in Oregon?
6.29.2007 7:57pm
whackjobbbb:
You'd do better to abandon this effort, and let your buddy Francis flail away on the court thing. Plenty of words to dissemble with there, I'm sure. But remember, if you get specific to that opinion, I will read it. Hey, I'm always open to data, honestly characterized.

This exchange and the energy you've put into it is emblematic of the utter waste that the faux "environmentalists" inflict on us. That's too bad, because responsible environmental professionals could really make use of those wasted resources.
6.29.2007 8:09pm