- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2001

The always endangered ideals of democracy and the currently endangered bald eagle, shortnose sturgeon and dwarf wedge mussel have found new friends at the National Wilderness Institute (NWI), which recently sued several federal agencies on the grounds (or at least waters) that those species would become even more endangered than they already are if construction of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge continues to go forward.

The new Wilson Bridge could be considered a long-standing budget boondoggle, except that very little of it has actually been built. Not that this newest lawsuit will draw the process any nearer to closure, except perhaps by slowing the workday arrival time of the matrons of the nanny state by jamming them in a regulatory traffic jam of their own making.

Indeed, the NWI is attempting to drive home the point that the selective enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has endangered the credibility of the federal government and established roadblocks to development in Western states. Rep. George Radanovich, California Republican and Western Caucus chair, claimed, "It's no wonder the bureaucrats in Washington have ignored our pleas when they can seemingly ignore the law when it affects where they live."

As proof, Mr. Radanovich has pointed to a recent study by the House Resources Committee which revealed vast disparities between Eastern and Western states in the number of areas designated critical habitats, numbers of species proposed as threatened or endangered and even numbers of ESA enforcement officials.

During hearings on the ESA's selective enforcement, California Rep. Ken Calvert pointed out, "If endangered and threatened species are going to be truly protected for future generations, our federal agencies must have credibility and deal in good faith with all citizens."

Despite the pylons of paper that various federal agencies have erected to evade their own environmental regulations, there is little doubt that the construction plan would alter the habitat and behavior of the species living therein. Moreover, the deliberately selective enforcement of the law is tantamount to tyranny, and a blot on the Supreme Court's credo, "Equal Justice Under Law."

The NWI should be lauded for its lawsuit, which will hopefully serve to protect both our endangered species and our endangered ideals.

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