The Hill, May 2, 2011
Don't Be a Sucker for ESA Scare Tactics
This opinion piece was written in response to "Santa Ana Sucker: Balancing Conservation Efforts" by Doug Headrick, published on April 29, 2011.
Doug Headrick’s latest attack on the Endangered Species Act sounds familiar. The recent emergency spending bill for the U.S. government included a provision that stripped Endangered Species Act protections from wolves in two states, while a new bill from Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) would override protections for the entire San Francisco-San Joaquin Bay Delta. Asking politicians to choose which species are protected is a dangerous game. In the case of the sucker, such intervention is also utterly unwarranted. It is curious that Headrick’s reply does not once mention California’s State Water Project, when his previous piece (“Poor Oversight Leaves California Dry”) blamed the Santa Ana sucker for reduced deliveries in the SWP. After the Center for Biological Diversity explained that there is absolutely no connection between the State Water Project and the sucker (“Don’t Blame the Santa Ana Sucker”) and that project deliveries are at an all-time high, Headrick now returns with another dubious attack in which the SWP is nowhere to be found. Clearly Headrick is shifting targets in search of whatever scare tactic will rile up Congress enough to take it out on the Endangered Species Act.
While last time Headrick incited fear over the State Water Project, he now raises the specter of reduced water supplies from the Santa Ana River. At least this time Headrick identified the correct river—but he gets the science and the impacts completely wrong.
In December 2010, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restored critical habitat designations for the sucker to portions of the Santa Ana River and its tributaries, designations previously removed in 2005 under the Bush administration with encouragement from — you guessed it — Headrick’s employer, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District. Last December’s decision was not only based on the best available science, it was reverting back to a decision actually based on science, period, rather than political influence. Thus Headrick’s claim about bad science is precisely backward.
|Photo © Paul S. Hamilton||HOME / DONATE NOW / SIGN UP FOR E-NETWORK / CONTACT US / PHOTO USE /|