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Yes to suckerfish. No to humans
By Tom DeWeese
US Marshals now guard the irrigation canal gates in Klamath Falls, Oregon, to insure that the 1,400 farmers there cannot have access to water in the midst of a drought. This is the federal government's response to a lawsuit brought by a radical environmental organization whose sole mission is to use the Endangered Species Act and other environmental legislation in ways that attack every aspect of the nation's economy.
Farmed for more than a century the area is dying of thirst because a federal court has ruled that that two species of suckerfish and one salmon species takes precedence over the land and water rights of the human species whose lives and livelihood mean nothing. Much of the area became farms after returning World War II veterans participated in a federal lottery designed to reward them for their service to the nation. The winners earned the right to farm the land and were granted rights to it and the water to irrigate it in perpetuity. Those rights have been abrogated just over fifty years later.
The court decision to grant fish more rights than those who have worked the land and paid their taxes is an attack on sanity itself. It lacks all rationality. It is an attack on these farmers, but it is also yet another example of the way radical environmentalists continue to attack on the most essential elements of the West's economic life; farming, ranching, mining and the timber industries.
It is ultimately an attack on every American's property rights because ownership of any land anywhere can be destroyed by simply asserting that an endangered species exists on it or may at some time use it. The value of the land and everything on or below it ceases to exist for the owner. The only thing that does not cease is the requirement to pay taxes on it.
The only people who are happy about the Klamath Falls disaster are the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund. Their lawsuit, based on the Endangered Species Act, derisively dismissed the lives of farmers as people "raising low-value crops."
Founded in 1971 as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, the organization boasts of its legal victories ranging from restricting ranchers from grazing their livestock to making sure no new Montana oil and gas can be secured, despite the energy needs of the nation. The agenda of these radical environmentalists is aimed directly at the destruction of our nation's economic base.
The Bush Administration, striving to demonstrate how environmentally sensitive it is, has abandoned these farmers. It has allowed a court ruling to stand when it has the legal capacity to provide relief through a special provision of the Endangered Species Act. It has announced it will not review the last minute Clinton-era decision to shut off water to the farmers. You don't need to be a farmer to see the danger. You only need human intelligence and compassion for them, something no suckerfish will ever have.
Tom DeWeese is the publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report and president of the American Policy Center, an activist think tank headquartered in Herdon, VA. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.americanpolicy.org. © Tom DeWeese, 2001
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