“Invertebrates aren’t sexy megafauna”: Your tax dollars at work for you

posted at 11:02 am on November 8, 2011 by J.E. Dyer

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit highlights a Powerline piece from Sunday by Steven Hayward on “demosclerosis,” which Hayward sees evidence of in the twin tales of the Keystone XL pipeline and a fallen Sequoia redwood tree in California.

For a slightly different tale of demosclerosis, see the Wall Street Journal today on “Flies and their lawyers,” which are keeping the Paiute Cutthroat Trout from “going home.”  The drama unfolds in the Sierra Nevada wilderness of California, southeast of Tahoe near the Nevada border.  In brief, the Paiute cutthroat trout (not to be confused with other varieties of cutthroat trout, like the Lahontan, for which there are also restoration projects underway) has been absent for decades from the 9-mile-long lower-creek area from which it is believed to have sprung some 10,000 years ago.  State fish and game officials introduced different varieties of trout into the lower-creek area some time back, and those trout did away with the Paiute cutthroat.

Happily, however, in 1912 a guy toted some Paiute cutthroats to the upper-creek area, above the waterfall, and the Paiute cutthroat trout survives to this day.  California Fish and Game and the federal authorities want to reintroduce the Paiute cutthroat to the lower creek.  They’ve been working on it since 1990.  The process itself isn’t expected to take long – get rid of the “non-native” fish by killing them off, put the Paiute cutthroat back in – but the regulatory requirements and the lawsuits have kept the restoration waiting on the shelf for 21 years.

Lawsuits?  Who could object to restoration of the Paiute cutthroat trout in its ancestral home?  That would be the legal defenders of invertebrates, of course.  Defenders of “flies,” to put it in WSJ’s generic terms.  Well, and people who just don’t like the use of chemicals.  To eliminate the unwanted fish, the state authorities want to use rotenone, a chemical whose naturally occurring base, found in the roots of common plants, was once used by indigenous tribes to kill fish for easier harvesting.  Rotenone would be tough on the flies (although they would be back in force pretty quickly).

Now, it turns out that the EPA has already been pleased (literally, that’s their word) to note that the project managers plan to use forms of rotenone that do not contain the synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO).  They would prefer that the project use a rotenone compound with less naphthalene wherever possible, of course, and they recommend that Tamarack Lake receive physical treatment only (that is, have the unwanted fish removed physically rather than by chemical extermination).  They note that the lake is already deemed to be fishless, but the project managers reserve the authority to treat it chemically if the need arises.  The EPA wants them to commit to physical removal as their method of prior choice.

EPA also shoehorns the following into the agency’s May 2010 comment on the Final Environmental Impact Statement regarding the restoration project:

Finally, we wish to comment on the statement in “Master Response I” regarding climate change (p. F-16, last paragraph). The response states that the evaluation of cumulative impacts of the project and climate change are not required under NEPA since NEPA only requires consideration of project impacts in combination with other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable projects, and that climate change is not a project under this definition. We strongly disagree with this interpretation. In fact, the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) cumulative effects handbook1 identifies global climate change as an example of cumulative effects (CEQ, p. 9) and identifies indirect effects, such as climate change, as important in improving the analysis of cumulative effects (CEQ, p. 7).

In case you were wondering.

We could focus on the sensation of swimming in tar that one gets from tracing one of these bureaucracy-lawsuit-regulation-fests.  But there are two other important perspectives on this, one of which is that this is what your tax dollars are doing for you.  Some questions to consider:

1.  Do you care if the Paiute cutthroat trout, which is already surviving elsewhere, is reintroduced to the 9 miles of lower creek where, over the millennia, it developed its unique markings?

2.  Do you care enough to pay for the restoration?

3.  Do you care enough to spend all the money spent by the US federal government and the states of California and Nevada to overcome years’ worth of regulatory bureaucracy and lawsuits?

4.  Do you think this is a high-priority topic for the US federal courts?

5.  Would you care even if the Paiute cutthroat trout had not survived?

6.  Since this whole issue has arisen because of fish management activities undertaken by government officials in the past, should we not think twice about continuing to bustle around relocating fish, for abstract, sometimes fanciful reasons that end up competing with each other down the road?

The other important perspective on this is that a burdensome, demosclerotic process of this kind can only be sustained by government.  Government doesn’t have to worry about a bottom line – at least not in the short run.  You’ve got government’s back.

You certainly can’t institute processes like this in the administration of your own life.  (Imagine telling your mortgage-holder that your payment is being held up by the environmental impact statement.)  Businesses can’t tolerate them.  These processes are extremely inefficient and dysfunctional: they actively prevent the objective from being reached, in favor of endless deliberations from which more and more people come to derive their livelihoods.

Virtually all of the money that has changed hands so far has gone to lawyers, advocacy “experts,” and government employees, none of whom gets anything done that generates food, shelter, commerce, production jobs, and revenue.  Every single speck of this whole tale is self-imposed overhead.  It’s as if the clerical and janitorial staff, Human Resources and the legal department and the electric power company, all combined forces to prevent the sales staff from selling anything, or the logistics staff from getting the product delivered, or the production line from rolling anything off of it, finished and ready for the customer.

A business could never run this way.  It would be bankrupt by the third day of operation.  But there’s one more perspective worth taking a look at here, and that is the modernist perspective:  that we know enough, and government agencies are smart and well-appointed enough, to cruise the landscape with perfect foresight, resettling the fish for what are basically sentimental purposes.  It’s an odd marriage of irredentism and technological self-satisfaction, as if we can now use technology and the majestic powers of government to enforce mythical beliefs.

The most important question of all – whether this project is something worth having the taxpayer-funded government do – doesn’t get a serious debate.  The important question never gets posed to the people footing the bill.  Instead, with a government now run largely through its bureaucracies, and a court system attuned to arcane environmentalism, the process is extended for years, costing more and more money, over ancillary questions like how much naphthalene ought to be present in the rotenone compound, and whether fish are sexier than flies, environmental-advocacy-wise.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Since this whole issue has arisen because of fish management activities undertaken by government officials in the past, should we not think twice about continuing to bustle around relocating fish, for abstract, sometimes fanciful reasons that end up competing with each other down the road?

Give it another 20 years and they will spend money to undo what they are doing today. Pro-regress.

journeyintothewhirlwind on November 8, 2011 at 11:06 AM

The most important question of all – whether this project is something worth having the taxpayer-funded government do – doesn’t get a serious debate.

Ahem…

The most important question of all is whether this expenditure is constitutional or not. And that is pretty much beyond debate, since I see nothing about it in the constitution.

gryphon202 on November 8, 2011 at 11:06 AM

This is why the EPA should be cut by 75%, and have it’s regulatory authority rescinded. Make it an advisory agency only.

Also, put Lisa Jackson in jail.

darwin on November 8, 2011 at 11:16 AM

The Paiute Cutthroat needs a lawyer to explain how the flies are surviving quite well at all the Occupy cesspools and restoring the trout to the lower river won’t effect the fly population.

Limerick on November 8, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Next up:

Restoring unicorns.

BobMbx on November 8, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Who could object to restoration of the Paiute cutthroat trout in its ancestral home? That would be the legal defenders of invertebrates, of course. Defenders of “flies,” to put it in WSJ’s generic terms.
J.E.Dyer

Bunch of Beelzebubs.

listens2glenn on November 8, 2011 at 11:18 AM

So the government created this problem to begin with. Terrific.

Just another warning. The only “trout” (actually char) species native to eastern US creeks is the brook trout. Most larger streams (in the thousands) that can support year round trout populations are occupied largely by government introduced European brown trout and some western rainbows. We better hurry up and eliminate them and reintroduce the brook trout!

The possibilities for expensive tinkering with fish populations are endless.

forest on November 8, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Did someone just say flies and trout?

Don L on November 8, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Can we just nuke the fish from orbit to be safe?

lorien1973 on November 8, 2011 at 11:29 AM

5. Would you care even if the Paiute cutthroat trout had not survived?

Probably not. They’re not a different species from the non-native river trout. They’re a separate sub-species, like the difference between a Border Collie and Farm Collie. They may have become a separate sub-species only a few thousand years ago or even a few hundred. Defining small sub-species as endangered species allows green groups to stop all human enterprise, and make a lot from “Green-mail”. That’s like black-mail, but more smug and in-your face.

theCork on November 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM

The possibilities for expensive tinkering with fish populations are endless.

forest on November 8, 2011 at 11:19 AM

I’m not against tinkering with nature (half the things we have in America(including fish) we either brought here or created in a hybridization hatchery.(Most worked out just fine-some, not so fine)

What I am against is the federal government enforcing whacko enviro-worship, and non-(wise) use of the resources God gave mankind!

Just a couple silly -mildly related info:

Did you know that it is against the law to not kill every Lake trout you catch in Yellowstone Lake?

Did you know it is illegal to use WD 40 on sturgeon bait during certain months?

Don L on November 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM

No, next up is “restoring” Yellowstone, which is going to limit visitors to maintain the natural, wild quality of the river. It’s our park, and they are going to forbid us from going?

PattyJ on November 8, 2011 at 11:31 AM

This is a prime example of what should be cut by the “committee” for budget cuts. In my dreams.

ultracon on November 8, 2011 at 11:32 AM

What is the cost of this Circus this far?

gullxn on November 8, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Would it be an environmental travesty if someone with a brain in his head trapped some of these trout and dropped them downstream?

I know it would be too easy for these idiots to actually do, but it would sure confuse the %^$# out of them.

AubieJon on November 8, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Did you know that it is against the law to not kill every Lake trout you catch in Yellowstone Lake?

Did you know it is illegal to use WD 40 on sturgeon bait during certain months?

Don L on November 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Nope. I didn’t even know it was legal to fish for sturgeon.

Next time I’m in Yellowstone I’ll be sure to bring my frying pan. No wait, frying the fish has got to be illegal there. I’ll hang them from a stringer and hope no grizzlies notice.

forest on November 8, 2011 at 11:42 AM

What I don’t get is how there is even an argument to be made FOR this folly. Since when does it fall under the pervue of “environmentalism” to literally KILL OFF other species of fish in favor of another ? I can at least forgive the fact that previous efforts drove off the original species, because that was an unintended consequence, but intentionally killing other fish ? WTF Is that ?

We shouldn’t be doing that AT ALL, let alone wasting untold millions of dollars fighting over it. Holy cripes.

deadrody on November 8, 2011 at 11:46 AM

And furthermore, how does the irony not crack these fools in the head that they are arguing over damaging the FLY population due to killing off all the fish!!?!?!?

I say 95% of sane people would laugh this out of consideration. Who the F actually proposed and funded this insanity ?

deadrody on November 8, 2011 at 11:50 AM

I am really curious about what this ‘project’ has cost so far.

And one easy way help solve the budget problems that I never hear mentioned is to restore the President’s Impoundment Authority removed by the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. Or at least requiring a vote on a President’s proposed rescission.

OBQuiet on November 8, 2011 at 11:51 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PskoqCtRFD4
At 2:08 he says it all.

Amendment X on November 8, 2011 at 12:02 PM

And one easy way help solve the budget problems that I never hear mentioned is to restore the President’s Impoundment Authority removed by the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. Or at least requiring a vote on a President’s proposed rescission.

OBQuiet on November 8, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Not sure about this…I shudder to think of what Obama or someone of his ilk would do with this…

How about a Citizen’s Impoundment Authority?

landlines on November 8, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Two words:

Trout.
Yummmmm.

Shirotayama on November 8, 2011 at 12:25 PM

5. Would you care even if the Paiute cutthroat trout had not survived?

Does it taste better than other trout?

John Deaux on November 8, 2011 at 12:35 PM

At 2:08 he says it all.

Amendment X on November 8, 2011 at 12:02 PM

.
Rear End !!!! Gloria, you prisspot, you!

ExpressoBold on November 8, 2011 at 1:09 PM

How about if we grow a hybrid marijuana/rotenone plant and get rid of these enviro-nazis that are ruining the country?

TugboatPhil on November 8, 2011 at 1:50 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PskoqCtRFD4
At 2:08 he says it all.

Amendment X on November 8, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Yep. I also like when he asks “what have I done…?” This is what these arrogant bastards will be asking when they realize the folly of their ways, but by then it will be too late.

yubley on November 8, 2011 at 1:56 PM

couldn’t this money better be spent as tax breaks to the oil companies or banks? I’m concerned that both of them might have to reduce CEO pay -_-

Zekecorlain on November 8, 2011 at 2:03 PM

I see that J.E. has a lot of free time on his hands these days…

Akzed on November 8, 2011 at 4:00 PM

As a landowner who’s (to my knowledge) still embroiled in a lawsuit with the Feds over water rights under my mere 5 acres about 45 miles east of this 9 mile stretch, I have to chime in…

This is a beautiful stretch of river that deserves to have native species of trout swimming the riffles and pools. Kill the non-native species AND bugs with rotenone(sp?) and plant the damn fish. Within roughly 6 hours there will be too many bugs, flies, and native everything swarming that 9 mile stretch to count. If there is ANY creature on the planet capable of filling a void left by intrusive men or beasts, it’s insects!

Let’s be done with the legal crap, put the fish back in this stretch of water, and move on to more important things…like getting folks who like to FISH back to WORK so that they can afford to go FISHING for damn trout again!

Biffstir on November 8, 2011 at 10:08 PM

5. Would you care even if the Paiute cutthroat trout had not survived?

No. Paiute are the one percent.

Shy Guy on November 9, 2011 at 7:19 AM

Would it be an environmental travesty if someone with a brain in his head trapped some of these trout and dropped them downstream?

I know it would be too easy for these idiots to actually do, but it would sure confuse the %^$# out of them.

AubieJon on November 8, 2011 at 11:38 AM

If someone did this, the population would be back to normal before the bureaucracy could decide one way or the other.

But see, if it was decided that they shouldn’t do it, govt logic says they would then have to kill off the species in that section of river they are currently talking about restoring in the first place. The good news for the repopulated population is that by then it would take them another 30 years to figure out how to do it, and by then this country will be so far off the rails no one will care anymore.

runawayyyy on November 9, 2011 at 11:23 AM