- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2006

The EPA and endangered species

Douglas T. Nelson, spokesman for CropLife and the pesticide industry, complained (“Enviros in green lawsuits,” Commentary, Monday) that three plaintiffs and our attorneys at Earthjustice were unfairly rewarded with a legal fee we received after a successful suit against the Environmental Protection Agency.

The suit will force the agency finally to obey the law. The EPA has a legal duty to ensure that pesticides will not wipe out endangered species. It’s the law, and it makes good sense. Yet the EPA refused to follow the law.

Since 1989, the EPA has allowed toxic pesticides to contaminate streams that are home to endangered salmon without taking any steps to comply with the Endangered Species Act. The EPA determined that several dozen pesticides, even when used according to the label, could harm salmon, yet it still took no action. Our lawsuit forced the EPA to bring its pesticide approvals into compliance with the law. And because this process will take time, the court ordered the EPA to immediately prohibit use of these pesticides along salmon streams in three Pacific states. In addition, the court ordered that warnings be posted in stores that sell certain troublesome pesticides.

Mr. Nelson is absolutely wrong when he claims that the conservation groups produced no evidence that the pesticides can harm salmon. The EPA made findings of harm for the pesticides, and the U.S. Geological Survey found many of them in salmon streams at harmful levels with alarming frequency.

The law allows successful plaintiffs to recover legal expenses. As an intervenor, CropLife could have opposed payment of fees in this case but did not. Moreover, CropLife significantly increased legal fees by both dragging the case to the Supreme Court when the law lay firmly on the side of the citizens and flooding the courts with irrelevant unnecessary data.

Fee recovery provisions enable citizens to go to court to hold their government accountable to the law. This is essential to our democracy.


Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides

Eugene, Ore.


Northwest regional director

Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations

Eugene, Ore.


Staff scientist

Washington Toxics Coalition

Seattle, Wash.

O’Malley’s neglect

I read with great interest about Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s near-criminal neglect of his city since he hit the campaign trail in his quest to unseat Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (“O’Malley neglecting Baltimore, critics say,” Page 1, Monday). His city is in disrepair, his government is being sued — again — for improper behavior, and all the while, I hear his campaign ads on my radio telling me about his grand plans for Maryland. It makes me wonder just what kind of governor he would make. If elected, would Mr. O’Malley set his sights on the White House, leaving Maryland’s government on autopilot?

Mr. O’Malley should focus on the job he was elected to perform. Baltimore is in great need of effective leadership. Perhaps Mr. O’Malley should finish cutting his teeth in that city before he brings his wild ambitions statewide.



Depopulate the District

In his letter Wednesday, Richard T. Salmon addressed the wisdom of H.R. 5388, sponsored by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, which would enable the people of the District to vote for a member of Congress, (“The District is not a state”). The people of the District indeed deserve representation in Congress. Perhaps the clue to a suitable solution can be found from reflection on the original intent of Congress in the creation of the District. My ancient memory recalls that both Maryland and Virginia were to give up land, from which the square format of the proposed District of Columbia was to be created. For reasons I no longer remember, Virginia withdrew from that plan, hence the odd geographic shape of the District.

Therein possibly lies the solution desired by Mr. Davis, Mr. Salmon and many others. The first step is to shrink the District to include only buildings and areas essential for the governance of the United States. Learning from the imaginative and judicious gerrymandering of the 20th and 21st centuries, the District could be carved out of its present boundaries. GSA and the Corps of Engineers could make the detailed layout and survey for the remapping.

Any private residences remaining within the proposed District boundary would be acquired by eminent domain and closed. With no residents remaining except for the current occupant of the White House, the question of lack of congressional representation would disappear.

What about residents within the present District boundary? Here is where judicious, imaginative gerrymandering would be applied. Several counties and a multitude of congressional districts in Virginia and Maryland are within reasonable proximity of the District.

When such restructuring was complete, everyone would be represented in Congress by elected legislators.

It is true, the existing municipal government of the District of Columbia would no longer be needed, but considering the small incremental cost of exercising jurisdiction over the resulting, slightly enlarged counties, the economic benefit of the abolition of the District’s government would be well worth considering.


Adamstown, Md.

The Democrats’ soft-on-security image

Sen. Joe Lieberman’s loss to Ned Lamont, albeit narrow, shows the enormity of Iraq as a midterm-election issue.

But the impact of the thwarted terrorist plot two days later to blow up thousands of trans-Atlantic passengers en route from the United Kingdom to the United States will more indelibly remind voters in November of the continued efforts by key Democratic leaders to sanitize U.S. security programs (“Britain foils airline plot,” Page 1, Friday).

It will be interesting to see whether Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, will continue voicing his objections — a la the ACLU — to the national security in administration bills, such as the Terrorist Surveillance Act to be considered when the Senate reconvenes in September.

Similarly, will Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, continue with his attempts to water down provisions of the National Security Agency’s surveillance/ eavesdropping activities inside the United States?

Certainly not, if the Democratic Party is to shed one iota of its soft-on-national security image.


Palm Desert, Calif.

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