Thursday, November 16, 2006

A good day for critters

Last week's elections, on a national level, were seen as a referendum on the war in Iraq and corruption in Congress (voters don't like either--go figure). But one incumbent Congressman lost for an entirely different reason.

California Representative Richard Pombo, chair of the House Resources Committee, tried to gut the Endangered Species Act last year with legislation that passed the House but was blocked in the Senate (by Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee).

As Sunday's Baltimore Sun reported, the Pombo bill would have:
• Required the interior secretary to add species "only sparingly" and to prepare an analysis of the economic, national security, and "other relevant impacts" of the decision.

• Repealed the secretary's authority to set aside critical habitats.

• Required the secretary to compensate landowners for costs associated with complying with ESA conservation measures.

In other words, make it harder to protect endangered species.

Pombo also introduced legislation to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to oil exploration. While some Republicans may love puppies*, the more conservative among them appear to have little affection for wildlife.

On November 8, the earth breathed a deep sigh of relief. Foxes frisked! Caribou cavorted! Geckos gamboled! Because the new chair of the House Resources Committee is Nick Rahall of West Virginia, whom the Defenders of Wildlife call a "Wildlife Hero."

Barbara Boxer is the new Senate Environment Chair, taking over from the maniacal James Inhofe, who once called global warming "the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people."

And in a sweep of karmic justice, Richard Pombo's own political career became extinct on Election Day.

*and are loved right back!



Your "Republicans Love Puppies" link surprised me. I was expecting Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 11/16/2006 10:19 AM

Is this the wroking of instant karma? Hope so. I just hope, for the sake of all critters, including human ones, it's not to late.

PS As always, love your writing.


Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 11/16/2006 10:45 AM



Good one! I hadn't thought of that.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 11/16/2006 11:02 AM


I'm an environmentalist. Here, let me say that again, I'm and environmentalist. I drive a Prius. I spend my vacations photographing birds. I spend a lot of time in parks, etc.

That said, you should add the TV show, "Penn and Teller's Bullshit!" to your Netflix queue. In season 3, they did an episode on the Endangered Species Act. It really opened my eyes.

For one, it only regulates land use. But there are a lot of species on the list, that live in the sea.

While I want endangered species protected, I'd rather see a bill with a better thought process than the one we currently have.

BTW, I really enjoyed interviewing you at Balticon for our podcast. I want to let you know that your interview has just been released at I hope you like it and you blog about it so your fans get to hear more from you.

Paul Fischer and

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 11/16/2006 9:58 PM

Paul, thanks for putting up the podcast! I'll be sure to link to it.

I agree that the ESA needs to be retooled. It has a lot of unintended consequences. However, I don't trust property rights advocates like Pombo to do the job.

It's hard to argue for the ESA on utilitarian grounds. What use are most of the species we protect? Very little. But this is one piece of legislation that comes from a moral standpoint--i.e., it's horribly wrong to allow one of God's/the Universe's creatures to disappear, and we should make whatever sacrifices necessary to keep that from happening.

P&T's show is awesome. However, they are staunch libertarians (at least Penn is), most of whom don't like environmental regulations. Also, they're devout atheists, so the moral argument wouldn't hold any water with them. Yes, even P&T have a bias/philosophy (much as they'd rather not admit it), and their shows shouldn't be viewed as purely objective fact.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 11/17/2006 8:11 AM

I should amend what I said about the moral argument holding water with atheists. I didn't mean that atheists are amoral. In fact, most of those I know are more morally coherent and thoughtful than most religious people I know.

What I meant was that the "God created them/loves them so we should protect them" argument wouldn't hold water. One would assume that a person coming from a purely skeptical/materialist philosophy would be less likely to ascribe intrinsic value to a species.

But not necessarily (she argues with herself). Biologist Edward O. Wilson is a non-religious person who deeply cares about wildlife and believes every creature has intrinsic value just because it exists. I'm with him on that, and highly recommend his books for an edifying and inspirational read.

I shouldn't get on the internet in the morning.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 11/17/2006 8:31 AM

Y'know, I was gonna get on you about that point... but then I figured, I should just relax.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 11/19/2006 4:34 AM

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