Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Laying Down the Laws?

Sometimes Google News picks up the oddest "news reports," like this one from It's a report to update people about the invasive species legislation currently making its way through the federal government, from a property-rights advocate's point of view.

Some issues:

  • The writer of this piece seems to think the "invasive species" is a concept made up so that the federal government can exert more control over the public (i.e. property owners), as indicated by the appearance of "invasive species" in quotes every time the phrase is mentioned...which is a lot.
  • The writer notes that in 2006, it is *aquatic* invasive species that are being targeted by federal legislation. A bit of history: The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act (NAISA) was first introduced in 2002, not exactly a fast-moving piece of legislation. There are those of us who remember its predecessor, National Invasive Species Act (NISA), that was enacted in 1996. There are also those of us who don't think it makes sense to split invasive species issues into aquatic and terrestrial camps.
  • The idea that the Ballast Water Management Act might include "non-ballast water factors" is not a bad one. It's about time we all recognized that ballast is just one of several aquatic pathways for non-native species introductions. Yes, I'm talking to you there, with the crusty hull.
  • The writer claims that there has been a six-month media blitz of invasive species articles leading up to now - that is just not true. The ISW has been monitoring the media for invasive species articles for almost four years. While public awareness about invasive species has certainly increased, leading to a flood of posts in the blogosphere, the mainstream media coverage has stayed about the same. The only difference is that more mainstream media sources have gone online, making any articles they publish easier to access.
  • As for the claim that these articles are "mostly ghostwritten by “IS” special interest groups"...well, who are all of these special interest groups and why haven't they offered me a job? :-)
  • The people that write and vote on legislation surely have a number of motivators, but it is hard to believe that the key one in play here is a desire to "restrict the rights of rural citizens." The people that support NAISA generally care about the environment and believe that invasive species are causing problems that could be prevented. To suggest that those people do not respect the rights of "rural citizens" is insulting, especially in current times, where slashing of federal and state budgets has led to an uprising of volunteers out there observing ecosystems, collecting data, and cleaning up the messes we've made due to some bad decision-making.