business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Did you hear the one about the fish with two heads?

No, this is not a joke. Far from it.

According to the New York Times, “variously mutated brown trout” have been traced to some Idaho creeks, not far from mining operations operated by JR Simplot Co. (The fish were the offspring of fish caught in the wild and spawned in captivity.)

Photos of the fish were included in the appendix of a scientific study that concluded “it would be safe to allow selenium - a metal byproduct of mining that is toxic to fish and birds - to remain in area creeks at higher levels than are now permitted under regulatory guidelines.” JR Simplot is looking for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a ruling that would allow it to exceed current acceptable selenium levels.

According to the Times piece, “Selenium is a naturally occurring element that, when disturbed, can be released as a toxic byproduct of human activities like farming, mining and burning coal. The regulation of selenium pollution is, for example, a highly contested issue in mountaintop coal mining in West Virginia and in agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley in California.

“The metal can also affect human health, with symptoms including hair and fingernail loss and numbness in fingers and toes. It has been regulated in drinking water since the 1970s. But the metal is far more dangerous to aquatic egg-bearing animals like fish, birds and reptiles - a fact revealed in the early 1980s when excessive selenium in agricultural runoff resulted in fatal deformities in waterfowl at the Kesterson Reservoir in California, including missing eyes and feet, deformed beaks, legs and wings, and protruding brains.”

Now, I’m not a scientist. But this does not seem like such a hard decision for the government to make.

In musical terms, the shin bone is connected to the knee bone. The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone. It isn’t hard to make the connections.

In movie terms, I think about Quint making certain connections in Jaws:

“You go inside the cage? Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark?

Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we've received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again...

Selenium in the water? Two-headed deformed fish in the water?

Time to make a change in how things are done.

In this case, it does not seem like it requires some Eye-Opening revelation. It seems like simple common sense.
KC's View: