Leaving No Tracks
(Jo Becker and Barton Gellman, Washington Post, June 27, 2007)
In Oregon, a battleground state that the Bush-Cheney ticket had lost by less than half of 1 percent, drought-stricken farmers and ranchers were about to be cut off from the irrigation water that kept their cropland and pastures green. Federal biologists said the Endangered Species Act left the government no choice: The survival of two imperiled species of fish was at stake.
Law and science seemed to be on the side of the fish. Then the vice president stepped in.
First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.
Because of Cheney's intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.
Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.
The Klamath case is one of many in which the vice president took on a decisive role to undercut long-standing environmental regulations for the benefit of business.
I realize that there are real people who depend on income from those farms, but I don't think that it is then responsible to not only bust a whole fishing industry and all the people who depend on that to live, but also create an unsustainable environmental policy for not only the fish, the people who want to enjoy the outdoors, all the animals that depend on the river, the fishing industry, but ultimately...also those very farmers that are being 'helped' in the short term. Everything in that situation will be hurt by Cheney's actions.