Following Up and Following Down: March 2019

WC should get a new photo for this recurring topic.

WC should get a new photo for this recurring topic.

It’s once again time for a half-hearted nod to due diligence as WC attempts to follow-up on earlier blog posts. It’s not journalism; it’s not even close to journalism. But it may demonstrate WC is paying attention.

Long-time reader Larry McGee reports seeing a Miller ’20 bumpersticker on a beater pickup recently. Bad Penny has come back from the political dead. Again. And again. Does anyone have a wooden stake and mallet WC can borrow? WC passes this rumor along so the news in the rest of this blog post won’t seem bad at all.

WC has argued at length for the importance of preserving biodiversity. We are losing species to extinction that we don’t even know exist. You may think that we have, say, mammals figured out anyway. You’d be wrong. The Omura’s Whale wasn’t even described until 2003, and we only discovered it has a world-wide range this year. Another instance of playing Jenga™ with out planet. If we can’t even find and identify the school bus-sized critters, how arrogant do you have to be to think we’ve found, let alone understand the importance, of smaller critters?

Climate science has long predicted a much higher risk of flooding as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change. It’s pretty simple: higher temperatures mean greater evaporation, into warmer air that can carry more moisture. With more moisture in the atmosphere, the potential for more severe precipitation events increases. At the simplest level, it’s the difference between a tropical rainstorm – which, in WC’s experience, is a lot like standing under an open fire hydrant – and the pitiful, drizzly rainstorms you get on the North Slope of Alaska. Flooding is complicated. It will be some time before scientists can tease out the contribution of climate change to the floods currently wracking the midwestern United States. Severe rain events are much more straightforward. And it is happening. The Trump Administration may be more concerned about the impact of a carbon tax on their investment portfolio than the impact on the environment. That doesn’t make their arrogant denials right.

WC recently analyzed an opinion piece by oil industry flack Kara Moriarty. That same day, WC’s fellow-lawyer and former state senator Joe Paskvan wrote his own opinion piece in the Anchorage Daily News pointing out that Alaska has paid billions of dollars in tax credits to the oil industry for precious little in return. Good stuff. It’s the other side of the coin that WC discussed. Paskvan points out that abandoning the tax credits would go a long ways towards solving Alaska’s fiscal crisis. He’s right, but it’s not going to happen on Governor Dunleavy’s (R, Koch Brothers) watch.

Idaho voters, in the 2018 election, adopted by a 61%-39% majority the Medicaid expansion offered by the Affordable Care Act, after years of dithering, thumb-twiddling and refusal by the Idaho Legislature. The Republican supermajority in the Idaho Legislature was outraged, and are now on the cusp of enacting the most stringent voter initiative requirements in the nation that, as a matter of reality, will make any future voter initiatives impossible. The new requirements would impose a requirement of signatures by 10% of the voters in 32 of Idaho’s 35 election district, and would shorten the time for getting the signatures from 18 months to just 6 months. The public testimony at hearings on the bill has been overwhelming against the bill, but that has stopped the Republicans. It’s a giant f**k you to the voters. WC supposes that the law could effect a change in the Legislature, especially the Idaho House. It might be that Governor Brad Little will vet it. But otherwise, it’s headed to court. A threshold that is too high is a denial of a right.

Purdue Pharma, the pusher that played the largest role in creating the opioid addiction epidemic, and its huckster owners, the Sackler family, agreed to settle a claim brought by the state of Oklahoma, for a total of $270 million. That leaves about 332 more state claims, and more than 1,600 federal claims consolidated in a case in Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland. In Ohio. It was the prospect of the nationally televised revelations of Purdue Pharma’s sleazy tactics in the Oklahoma case that brought Purdue and its checkbook to the settlement table. If, as it appears, Purdue doesn’t want its filthy laundry aired on television, then perhaps we should expect a series of motions to televise trial as the other 1,650 or so cases get lined up for trial. Truly, it could not happen to a better family than the Sacklers.

It’s not just the Sacklers, of course. During 10 months in 2007, one distributor, McKesson, shipped three million prescription opioids to a single pharmacy in a West Virginia town with 400 residents. Yeah, WC would take that case on a contingency fee.

Finally, WC wrote quite recently about the Trump Administration’s evisceration of the 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse Plans. Advocates for the West has filed an Amended Complaint challenging the Trump Administration’s unilateral modifications to a multi-lateral agreement. WC predicts try as the Feds might, and no matter the level of support from Big Oil and mining industry, the Trump Administration will lose this fight. 

And on that note, WC will move on. Maybe some posts about birds, or something nearly as cheerful.



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