Dick Cheney hates the whales

You'd think that the vice-president would have better things to do than try to make life difficult for one of the most endangered species on the planets. But then, you'd be wrong. Via Talking Points Memo, we learn that Dick Cheney's office has been refusing to let the federal government establish new speed limits for boat traffic in northern right whale territory.

We know this thanks to the efforts of the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Henry Waxman, who has released an April 30 letter to Susan Dudley, administrator
of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, asking, basically, what the hell is going on with the delay in setting the new limits, which scientists all agree with reduce whale strikes significantly. He quotes a study from the National Marine Fisheries Service, which found that

The available evidence strongly suggests that the western population of North Atlantic right whale[s] cannot sustain the number of deaths that result from vessel and fishing gear interactions. If the impact of these activities continue at current rates, the extirpation of the western population of North Atlantic right whales is likely. Given the low population size of right whales in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, the extirpation of right whales in the western Atlantic Ocean would render the entire species effectively extinct.

and adds that

NMFS says that "no mortality or serious injury for this [whale] can be considered
insignificant" and that the death of even a single whale, particularly of a breeding female, "may
contribute to the extinction of the species."

And yet:

Internal Administration documents received by the Committee indicate that the delay in
protecting the right whale appears to be due to objections raised by White House officials, including officials in the Office of the Vice President. The documents show that White House officials have repeatedly required NMFS and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to respond to objections to the scientific justification for the right whale rule. In some cases, White House officials have apparently conducted their own analyses using questionable assumptions to delay the final rule.


The White House analysis was rejected by the expert scientists at NOAA. They found that the White House officials used a "biased sensitivity analysis" that was "unlike any formal sensitivity analysis NMFS biometricians are familiar with."

Apparently, Cheney's office doesn't believe that there's any good evidence to show that if you keep boat traffic speeds down to 10 knots, the whales, of which there are only about 300 left, will do any better. Funny, I didn't know one needed a marine biology degree to work in the White House.

The Washington Post reports today that

Kristen Hellmer, spokeswoman for the White House Council for Environmental Quality, said in a statement that the office is reviewing the Waxman letter.

Of course they are.


More like this

Everyone seems to agree about one thing concerning Vice President Cheney's senior aide, F. Chase Hutto III. He never met an environmental regulation he didn't just hate and oppose on principle. According to the Washington Post he has been instrumental in keeping our air and water dirtier than it…
In case your are unfamiliar with this group, Wespac is the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council in charge of policy for the management of fisheries in the EEZ around American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, the Northern Mariana Islands and US Pacific island possessions. Funny things are going…
tags: white orca, white killer whale, Orcinus orca, zoology, cetaceans, NOAA A rare white killer whale, Orcinus orca, better known as an Orca, photographed by researchers off the coast of Alaska on 23 February. Image: Holly Fearnbach (NMML, NMFS permit 782-1719) [wallpaper size]. Seattle…
EPA has set the limit for pollution-forming ozone in the air to 75 ppb, despite the unanimous advice of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee to set it between 60-70 ppb (more here on the health effects of ozone). This is hardly a surprise, given the Bush Administrationâs record. But in this…

Ever get the feeling that the underlying "reasoning" here (and in many other cases) is that anything that pisses off the hippies is a good idea?

As Homer put it: "But Lisa, if we start conserving, then the environmentalists win!"

I was hoping one of you guys would blog this, it's atrocious.... Just when I think I cannot hate that SOB more, he goes and does something like this. He represents nearly everything I cannot stand about humanity... I cannot even put it into words.

Dunc, It's baser than that. They don't give a damn what the hippies think; they care about the green. Someone thinks they'll lose a dollar or fifty cents if they try to save the whales, so the whales have to die. These greedy bastards pull the puppet strings and the Dick dances.

By Woody Tanaka (not verified) on 01 May 2008 #permalink

Thanks for blogging on this; I was hoping someone here at SB would cover it.

It seems to me that this is just one more instance of the Bushco tribe realizing that the science is definitely against them, but doing everything possible to procrastinate and delay taking action.

It's part and parcel with what we're seeing from Stephen Johnson at the EPA. Delay, delay, and then when you can't delay any longer, make a ruling that will guarantee a lawsuit that will take years to get through the courts.

So when did the Veep get his new boat?

Have you read Moby Dick Cheney? It's about a couple of buddies who go out whale hunting when tragedy strikes. Something about an explosive harpoon tip hitting someone in the face.

If they were icebergs, they'd be avoided.
If they were small boats, ditto
If they were submarines, ditto

But pregnant Right Whales in the shallow coastal waters where they give birth? When they have to stay at the surface to lift babies up for their first breath and watch over them?

Can't possibly avoid those. Nope.

Hmph. I remember some nasty kids when I was growing up who'd had too many toys run over in the street, who eventually put a cinderblock in a grocery bag, with a doll hanging out of it, and left that out on the street. Same guy came by again, and went out of his way to run over the kids' toy bag.


Last time he drove on that street.

Maybe it's time for Sea Shepherd to deploy floating hollow concrete whales in the whale nursery area?

By dagnabbit (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink