Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Judge Rips into Bush Official Over "Dolphin-Safe" Tuna Rules

ENVIRONMENTAL WATCH: In a case that would have effected not only the environment, but what you eat...

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson found that Commerce Secretary Donald Evans not only failed to conduct the scientific research required to relax existing tuna-labeling laws, but engaged in “a pattern of delay and inattention” to build support for his position.

“The record is replete with evidence that the secretary was influenced by policy concerns unrelated to the best available scientific evidence,” Henderson wrote in a strongly worded 51-page opinion. “This court has never, in its 24 years, reviewed a record of agency action that contained such a compelling portrait of political meddling.”

What was proposed
The Commerce Department wanted to rewrite the 1990 law to allow tuna caught with nets to be labeled dolphin-safe if observers certified that no dolphins were killed or seriously injured in the process. Dolphins commonly swim with schools of tuna, and fisheries in Mexico and South America encircle the popular mammals with nets to hone in on their prey...

“Judge Henderson’s ruling exposes the Bush administration’s deceit in ignoring its own scientists and caving into Mexican demands to allow dolphin-deadly tuna back into the U.S. with a phony label,” said Earth Island Institute director David Phillips, whose group was one of the plaintiffs in the suit against Evans.


Time after time the Bush administration has wrecked havoc with environmental laws and protections. With John Kerry in the White House we will have an environmental champion who will preserve the environment and protect public health.

John Kerry is Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. During his career in the Senate, Kerry has fought to protect the fishing industry as well as save the Marine Eco-system.

- John Kerry was a lead cosponsor of the Coral Reef Conservation Act, legislation to create a national program to preserve, sustain, and restore the condition of coral reef ecosystems. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton.

- John Kerry cosponsored legislation to encourage the restoration of estuary habitat through more efficient project financing and enhanced coordination of federal and non-federal restoration programs. The bill was sponsored by the late Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island, and it was signed into law by Clinton.

- When the Bush Administration signaled that it may overturn longstanding policy prohibiting oil and gas drilling off the coast of New England and especially in the fishing ground of Georges Bank, John Kerry moved to strengthen that prohibition. The Senator amended the law preventing drilling to ensure New England’s coast had the same protections are other federal waters. His provision became law in 2001.

- John Kerry was the lead cosponsor of the National Marine Sanctuaries Reauthorization Act of 2000 which increases funding levels for this national ocean program, including Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Massachusetts. The Stellwagen is an important habitat for whales and other species central to the Massachusetts environment. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton.


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