Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jan 19 10:46:09 MST 2003

(An informative article. However, it really does not explain why it is 
important to save the minnow, merely the latest version of the Snail Darter 
or the Spotted Owl. These species are worth preserving because they 
represent key elements in the food chain, either at the bottom with the 
minnow and the Snail Darter, or at the top with the Spotted Owl. If the 
capitalist developers have their way, the only species alive 50 years from 
now will be pigeons, crows and squirrels, etc. that can be viewed from 
air-conditioned houses in the arid southwest.)

NY Times, Jan. 19, 2003
Albuquerque Case Pits Thirst Against Fish

ALBUQUERQUE, Jan. 16 — A three-inch-long endangered fish is standing 
between this city and its plans for a well-watered future.

The fish, the silvery minnow, native to the Rio Grande, has been the 
subject of years of court battles. But now a federal appeals court is about 
to decide whether, to save the fish, Albuquerque must give up drinking 
water it has set aside behind a federal dam for the years ahead.

The case poses the most direct confrontation yet between the Endangered 
Species Act, which ranks the protection of threatened animals and plants 
above human needs, and the water rights held by cities like Albuquerque in 
Western states where water is becoming increasingly scarce.

Among the states that have joined with the city of Albuquerque and the 
State of New Mexico in asking the court to reserve the water for people are 
Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Wyoming. Their 
actions reflect wide expectation that the ruling could have broad 
implications, with a potential impact on scores of federal water projects 
and endangered species in 17 Western states.

The mayor of Albuquerque, Martin Chavez, says the case involves "the 
highest stakes imaginable" for his city, whose rights to the water stored 
behind the dam date back to a 1962 contract with the federal government. 
The city now relies wholly on water pumped from the ground at rates that 
cannot be sustained. But under a $200 million transition plan that would 
leave the city using ground water as a small part of its supply, the water 
behind the dam would become essential.

Environmentalists who are challenging the city, however, say the water 
right is not absolute and can be superseded by the need to address the 
threat to the fish, once the most plentiful in the river. Like the flow of 
the Rio Grande itself, the minnow's numbers have dwindled, to the point 
where experts say the fish will not survive in the wild if the river, 
heavily tapped by farmers and others and now stricken by drought, is 
allowed to go dry. The river nearly did go dry this fall along a 60-mile 
stretch south of Albuquerque, which is the most critical habitat for 
survival of the minnow.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/19/national/19WATE.html

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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