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Beware the Intrusive Invasive Species Act

A recent Associated Press article by Malia Rulan reported on a Senate panel's consideration of S.525, National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2003, which if enacted would spend $167 million a year to better coordinate efforts between state and federal agencies. Senators Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, prime advocates, say that the invasives in question cause $138 billion in damage each year.

If, in fact, this is the case and if one had faith in governmental bureaucracies to identify and solve problems, this indeed would be an excellent investment. Unfortunately, track records are not good. One needs only look at the Endangered Species Act and the monster it has created. Despite an exorbitant price tag it has accomplished little more than horribly abusing landowners, both private and public, and innumerable businesses. Serious questions arose as to just how many of the subjects were truly endangered. Many times it was a matter of the species being on marginal portions of their range. Often the subjects are not distinct species, but rather subspecies or races.

One of the major culprits prompting this Act was the zebra mussel, which is wreaking havoc in the Great Lakes. The article mentions that this invasive was first found there in 1988. Wow, that was 15 years ago. One would think that with all the manpower that the bureaucracies had at their disposal, they would have gone into action long ago, if indeed a real problem existed.

A spokesman for the Coast Guard told the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee that his agency is already working to establish a mandatory ballast water program for vessels entering United States waters. Obviously, there is a need for the left hand to know what the right is doing. In respect to the zebras, is this a matter of closing the door after the horse has left? And, just what are the other threats from ballast water? The spokesman said that the bill would complicate the process, since it calls for involvement of the Environmental Protection Agency. He might have a point there, since that Agency is a liberal infested organ of questionable character.

The President of the Lake Carriers' Association testified that the bill's standards are too high and would be difficult to manage and regulate. Does not this seem to be the case with any regulations the feds and many state agencies promulgate?

Environmentalists reportedly praised the bill, saying it would institute a number of necessary tools to manage and protect domestic waterways. Being true liberals it is difficult to determine just what is on their minds. Naturally, they have no problem supporting anything that suppresses individuals and free enterprise, and often their concern for the environment is somewhere out in the wings.

Really, what is needed in these deliberations and planning processes is a crack team of independent, objective, common-sensical, dedicated, well-versed biologists. Unfortunately, such seem to be in very short supply these days, and, of course, individuals of this nature are definitely not politically correct.

A spokesman for the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said the biggest challenge in stopping the spread of invasive species is having a clear strategy and coordinating state and federal agencies. Yes that is true, but foremost the planning process must include all the necessary ingredients; that is the problems must be precisely identified, real needs determined, costs to benefits realistically considered, alternate remedial measures assessed, and the appropriate courses of action selected.

A review of a copy of the bill S.525 raises many questions and becomes more and more bothersome as one proceeds. The initial focus was the zebra mussel in the Great Lakes, but, as might be expected, the master planners and controllers get quite carried away, resulting in the bill having seven titles. It starts with prevention of introduction of aquatic invasive species into the U.S. by vessels; then jumps to prevention by other pathways; followed by early detection, rapid response, control and outreach; then aquatic invasive species research; and finally coordination. It would certainly appear that some bodies are trying to build an empire with little regard for what responsibilities are delegated to whom by law.

Section two of the bill entitled "Findings" states that Congress finds, but does not identify where they find these findings from. The first of these is that invasive species can cause devastating declines in species diversity. How about the possibility of them increasing diversity? Of course diversity is wonderful especially to those of a liberal ilk. The second is that they continue to be introduced. Do not any invade naturally? Then comes an all-encompassing finding that they damage infrastructure, disrupt commerce, out-compete native species, threaten human health, and again reduce biodiversity. They sure are a nasty bunch that dictate the need for a massive enlargement of the federal bureaucracy. Number five is very alarming, with 3 billion dollars spent in the last ten years to mitigate damage by one species, the zebra mussel. It is not stated whether this had any impact on the critter.

The sixth finding is that invasives are the second leading threat to endangered species, whatever that designation means. It does not mention what number one is. Seven states that invasion rates have increased exponentially over the past 200 years. Are they aware that all increases are exponential? And then, wetlands suffer compound impacts, whatever that means. Of course, all wetlands are wonderful ever since they stopped calling them quagmires. The ninth is very objective indeed, stating that the rate of invasions continues to be unacceptable. Then, infestations by aquatic invasive species often spread and cause significant, negative regional, national, and international effects. Again highly technical stuff, obviously calling for deep involvement by the feds and the high and mighty United Nations. This is followed by finding eleven, which leads to twelve and subsequently to twenty, which says little but pleads with the Senators to do what is in the interest of the United States. Undoubtedly, all of these findings are based on the best that science has to offer.

The next section of S.525 presents 35 definitions. For the sake of the reader, only the most bothersome ones will be discussed. Number seven is environmentally sound, which of course should guide, or actually dictate, the activities of every human on the face of the Earth. It has to do with minimizing adverse effects on structure and function of an ecosystem and nontarget organisms and ecosystems. Bear that in mind before you take your next step. Number nine defines the Great Lake to be all of the Great Lakes, the connecting channels of those Lakes, and any other body of water located within the drainage basin of such. They certainly aim to stake out a massive kingdom. Undoubtedly, the states and localities would no longer have to be bothered with much of anything. Could it be that the lords have elaborate master planning and social engineering in mind.

Definition fifteen states that introduction means transfer of an organism to an ecosystem outside the historic range of the species of which the organism is a member. Pray tell just what is an ecosystem? Does it have bounds? And can one tell when they go from one to another? Then the matter of historic range. How far back in history does one have to go? Sort of the same as the problem of deciding how long a person has to live in a community to be called a native. A similar dilemma exists with twenty, which defines a nonindigenous species as one that enters the ecosystem from outside the historic range. Anyone even approximating an ecologist knows that all ecosystems are in a constant state of flux and that species over time come and go as a result of natural changes in habitat or adaptive changes on the part of the species.

Then there is the pathway, which is one or more routes by which a species goes from one ecosystem to another. Certainly it knows when it goes from one to another. There is the pilot scale test, which is conducted at less than full scale, the results of which can potentially be extrapolated to full scale. Is not this always the case? Twenty-five is planned importation, which was probably inserted by environmentalists to allow them to play God and kidnap wolves from Canada and release them in the States, or any other wild schemes their hearts may desire. Finally, there is the scary definition of undesirable impact. To the high and mighty this means economic, human, health, aesthetic, or environmental degradation that is not necessary for, and is not clearly outweighed by public health, environmental, or welfare benefits. This is all encompassing giving the social engineers a blank check to do anything they deem necessary anywhere, even in your own backyard.

This review has covered only a small percentage of the Invasive Species Act, but it should provide a fairly good idea of just how intrusive it might be. The entire act can be retrieved from the U.S. Senate website.

The proposed bill is undoubtedly a concoction of those decidedly on the liberal side of the political spectrum. It might be interesting to note that these are the same people who turn their backs on the massive problems confronting the United States from illegal and indiscriminant legal human immigration from all parts of the world. These not only threaten security but have tremendous economic, social, and political impacts.

Yes, this country should be concerned with the likes of the zebra mussel and purple loosestrife, but discipline on the part of the leaders and citizens must prevail, if traditional American society is to endure.

September 5, 2003
Nate Dickinson

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