How we long for the good old days! That’s the tone of some environmental industry leaders who are screaming bloody murder (literally, not figuratively) about Department of the Interior actions under President Trump. The Department’s re-interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a case in point.
One Washington Post writer carped that “cruelty without consequence” is at “the heart of the Trump era.” The new rule, she wrote, is “harmful to the weak … but also to the strong, who in the exercise of cruelty become less humane, less human.”
Advocates - Days - Rule - January - February
To be clear, for these advocates, the “good old days” under one specific rule were from January 10 to February 6, 2017. That is how long an Obama rule from the Department’s lawyer was in effect: 27 days.
President Obama’s Interior Department Solicitor General had written something called “Opinion M-37041,” which radically changed the way federal officials were to enforce the migratory bird law. Issued just ten days before the Obama Administration ended, it was suspended less than a month later, pending review by the new Trump Administration.
Review - Year - Opinion - M-37041 - Law
That review, completed earlier this year, found that Opinion M-37041 was inconsistent with the law.
The opinion needed review, because M-37041 presumed that all killing of all migratory birds in all places at all times was illegal, and could result in fines or even jail. It no longer mattered whether birds were killed accidentally or intentionally, by negligence or through no fault. It no longer mattered whether birds inadvertently died as a result of entirely legal activity, or if they died from their own poor navigation skills by flying into man-made structures. Businesses that built such structures could be fined anyway.
Law - Way - Interpretation - Purpose - Activists
The law was never intended to be used that way. But that interpretation had a clear purpose for environmental activists who dominated the Obama Interior Department....
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