We've got a good old fashioned battle a' brewin'.
August 1, 2001 3:08 AM   Subscribe

We've got a good old fashioned battle a' brewin'. Endangered wildlife acts have placed American heroes in danger and now have killed them. Would the young smoke jumping "forest savers" agree? Or are they now turning over in their graves that republicans have leeched themselves onto personal tragedy to make rightist inroads on ecological conservation?
posted by crasspastor (13 comments total)
I'm not at all denying the tragedy that water was scarce (that being the "sole factor" contributing to the young firefighters' deaths). More, what's to come of conservation in this, oh so reactionary time of ours, now that we've the simple salmon to blame.
posted by crasspastor at 3:18 AM on August 1, 2001

It's not a question of regulation here, I think, but of bureaucratic logistics. And it's a very American attitude, as Bill Bryson mentions in Notes From A Big Island in an anecdote about passport control: had this been in Britain, or especially Australia, and no-one was there to answer the call, chances are that the fire crews would have said "fuck it", taken the water anyway, and asked for permission afterwards.
posted by holgate at 4:34 AM on August 1, 2001

So if you disagree with a policy, wait for a tragedy to happen and find a way to blame it on that issue, rather than on what could be any number of contributing factors. How strong the evidence is, is not important, as long as people associate the policy you don't like with the tragedy (envirnomental law = fire)
posted by brucec at 5:17 AM on August 1, 2001

Reading the story, it seems that noone actually had to approve the taking of the water. So, the Endangered Species Act is bad because the helicopter-guy was confused?
posted by sad_otter at 5:43 AM on August 1, 2001

This tragedy, needless or not, serves to as a useful illustration that enviromental regulations have actual human cost in lives and safety. Even if this case was a mistake, the regulatory environment had a chilling effect on necessary life-saving action.

This illustration comes at a particularly useful time, as Congress gears up to consider stricter CAFE standards. It is clear that lighter and more fuel efficient vehicles are less safe than heavier vehicles that burn more fuel - some estimates run as high as a 27% increase in highway deaths due to current CAFE-provoked auto downsizing. The tighter restrictions which would inevtiably come from the Kytoto Protocol would surely have caused even more mayhem and tragedy.

Current law requires that the federal government perform an "environmental impact study" on new programs and policies prior to implementation. Wouldn't it be an equally good idea to perform a safety impact study on environmental regualtions to figure out how many people they will kill before we implement them?
posted by mikewas at 8:06 AM on August 1, 2001

Yeah. Think how many lives could be saved if everyone drove an SUV.
posted by Mocata at 9:31 AM on August 1, 2001

Think how many lives could be saved if everyone drove an SUV.

You're not thinking outside the box, Mocata. We should be demanding a safety impact study on what happens when everyone drives a tank.
posted by holgate at 10:23 AM on August 1, 2001

Oh, and the source of "some estimates" is a body committed to "advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government". Quel fucking surprise.
posted by holgate at 10:25 AM on August 1, 2001

Actually, holgate, if you'd read the source instead of just rolling your mouse over the link, you'd know that the original source is a Harvard-Brookings study published in the Journal of Law and Economics (April 1989 issue).

Mocata: You may be tongue in cheek, but the savings would be significant. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the same agency that oversees CAFE) has for years consistently rated SUV's among the safest passenger vehicles, even after factoring in rollover risk.

So yes, if everyone traded in their Pintos and Hyundais for Land Cruisers and Escalades, they'd be far less likely to die in a traffic accidents.
posted by mikewas at 2:27 PM on August 1, 2001

I've been watching the ESA meme crawl through right-leaning and libertarian (hi Mike) media for months, just looking for a willie horton. Conservative press works best by finding one example and trying to run with as being representative of the whole system being evil (remember Reagan's welfare queen). But enough of this right-wing conspiracy claptrap, right and left media always have their own agendas, this story worked from a right one ... but on to the topic at hand.

No one will deny the ESA is less than perfect, particularly in its certification and enforcement mechanisms, but let's not go throwing the baby out with the river water. The piece repeatedly cites rotten planning, not the ESA, as the likely culprit. But beyond that, let's look at who was responsible for the most prominent quote in the piece, the esteemed Congressman who questioned the ESA's role in this mess, Rep. Scott McInnis of Colorado.

Rep. McInnis has been responsible for some outstanding pieces of policy that have shaped the very core of our nation. The LCVoters sure love 'im. There's his ground-breaking work on getting violent video games out of the Denver airport. And let's not forget how much the US Chamber of Commerce and American Conservative Union love him too. Both of them gave him a perfect scorecard, which is better than even Trent Lott got and on par with Jesse Helms.

To his defense, he has done some good stuff with national parks in his state, but by and large, this guy is an environmental Bob Dornan.

Exactly the person I'd pick for a quote about the ESA and a fire that took place outside his own state.

Yep. Here's to a meme.
posted by foist at 7:52 PM on August 1, 2001

Time for the typical Fezboy! off-topic, anti-car rant.

If y'all stopped driving cars and started cycling then both lower overall emissions and increased traffic safety goals could be realized. It would also save on road maintenance costs, road widening projects, discourage urban sprawl, and increase the importance of public transportation - which could be funded out of some of the savings mentioned. Of course, this plan would royally screw your friendly automaker, petrochemical tycoon, [Vice] President, and/or insurance agent.

Believe it or not folks, automobiles are not a prerequisite for life on this planet. While I'm at it, I'd like to plug International Car-Free Day - September 21.

Stepping off the soapbox and returning the thread to the actual topic at hand - thank you very much.
posted by BoyWithFez at 9:28 PM on August 1, 2001

Mocata: You may be tongue in cheek, but the savings would be significant.

You too may be tongue in cheek, but you haven't dealt with the question of tanks to my satisfaction.
posted by Mocata at 2:02 AM on August 2, 2001


Well, fine, then. I see only a few issues that we would have to deal with vis-a-vis tanks.

1. They're probably too wide for most of our roads, and I wonder if tank treads might not be too punishing on the road surfaces.

2. Tanks are probably beyond the purchasing power of the average driver.

3. Tanks are ill-suited as passnger vehicles - they are noisy and uncomfortable.

4. Every tank would have to be retrofitted with that government-mandated third-taillight (Thank you, Liddy Dole.)

5. I'm not sure if tanks can achieve the same speed as passenger cars or SUV's.

6. The NHSTA hasn't performed its rollover tests on tanks yet, so that it can scare the beejeezus out of consumers.

Other than those problems, I suspect the occupants of a tank would be even safer than the occupants of an SUV.
posted by mikewas at 10:17 PM on August 2, 2001

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