The Latest Bounce


National Marine Fisheries Service biologist Michael Kelly blew the whistle in late October on the agency's failure to protect salmon in the Klamath River (HCN, 10/28/02: The message of 30,000 dead salmon). According to Kelly, in April 2002, the Fisheries Service repeatedly changed its biological opinion - ultimately lowering river-flow recommendations by nearly one-half - not as the result of the "best available science," but under political pressure from the Bureau of Reclamation.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., has reversed Judge James A. Parker's September decision that forced the Bureau of Reclamation to release water from Rio Grande reservoirs to protect the endangered silvery minnow (HCN, 10/14/02: Albuquerque is dragged into Rio Grande fight). When asked how the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with minnow recovery, viewed the decision, field supervisor Joy Nicholopoulos said she wasn't authorized to discuss the case. In September, the service had reversed its earlier biological opinion that advocated water releases for the minnow.

Idaho farmers, whose crops were destroyed when the Bureau of Land Management sprayed the DuPont-manufactured herbicide, Oust, over nearby rangelands, have received $5 million (HCN, 6/10/02: Exotic-killing herbicide is ousted from the range). The money, distributed by the Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency, came as the result of legislation sponsored by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. Farmers in six counties claim to have suffered over $900 million in crop damages and are still seeking compensation from the BLM and DuPont.

A Senate report released at the end of October reveals that the Bush administration acted improperly when it overturned Clinton-era environmental regulations that protected roadless areas in national forests, restricted hard-rock mining on public lands, and regulated arsenic levels in drinking water (HCN, 4/9/01: Republicans launch counteroffensive). The report, ordered by Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., asserts that the revision of the three rules was "based on a pre-determined hostility to the regulations rather than a documented, close analysis of the rules or the agencies' basis for issuing them." Republicans dismissed the report as pre-election shenanigans.

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