Environment: Stalking the Law

Species act endangered

Nearly extinct and known to live only in the waters of the Little Tennessee River, the 3-in.-long snail darter is exerting an influence far out of proportion to its size. In June the U.S. Supreme Court stopped construction of the $116 million Tellico Dam because it would wipe out the diminutive fish, thereby violating the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Now the snail darter is endangering the very law that protected it.

After four months of desultory debate, Congress last week failed to renew funding for the act, thus idling the 195 Interior Department bureaucrats and field agents who enforce it...

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