- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2001

When is a persistently rare critter certainly not extinct, nor even really endangered? Such troubling waters of logic are easily traversed when a bridge for bureaucrats is at stake specifically, the already all-too troubled Wilson Bridge.
The bridge has already become synonymous with bureaucratic exceptionalism. Bald eagles and shortnose sturgeon, both endangered species, will almost certainly be harmed by construction of the bridge, and yet federal bureaucrats signed off on the project anyway.
It now appears that at least three species of endangered invertebrates would be similarly affected. Yet perhaps fearing still another delay in a bureaucratic boondoggle already approaching the proportions of Boston's Big Dig, the Interior Department has refused to recognize the insects as endangered.
Instead, the Department suggested that at least one of the species was simply, in Steven Segal style, hard to kill. As reported by Audrey Hudson of The Washington Times, the Interior Department claimed that the first sighting in 50 years of the presumed extinct Northern Virginia well amphipod, "indicates that the species, though it may be rare, has persisted and is not in imminent danger of extinction."
Perhaps the same standard should be applied to the suckerfish, for whose presence federal bureaucrats have turned off water taps to thirsty communities throughout the West. That decision was devastating for the financial futures of many farmers living in the area, and is only one example of the high price Westerners are paying for the rigorous enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A few weeks ago, four firefighters paid the ultimate price, after the water drop they frantically requested was delayed for 10 hours over fears that the river from which the water was drawn contained endangered species.
Understandably, Western leaders are outraged over such hypocritical and unfair enforcement of the ESA. As Idaho Sen. Larry Craig said, "It appears Washington, D.C. gets a special exemption when it comes to species protection."
If the Interior Department was right to refuse to allow supposedly endangered insects to interfere with the construction of a needed causeway, it should have also refused to allow the North Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle to block the building of a levee, or Delhi Sands flies to stall construction of school and hospital construction in San Bernardino.
After all, political power grows through the making of exceptions, and equitable enforcement of the law is always an endangered species.

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