Spirit Whales and the Administrative State

 

An Australian judge ordered a halt to the construction of an offshore natural gas project because the company running the project neglected to perform all the consultations with interested parties required to meet environmental requirements.  If you read the entire dry, boring, citation-heavy opinion you would never know what the missing consultation was all about. The developers neglected to consult with the Custodian of Whale Dreaming who asserts that Spirit Whales will be injured by the project. See, this summary of this article.

I think it is right and good that administrative law requires considerations of actual, substantive environmental harms and injury to substantive community interests.  For example, I would oppose paving over the Alamo or Yorktown or digging up an established Native American burial ground to build a theme park centered on sex, guns, and whiskey or a toxic smokestack plant (well, the toxic plant is out for sure).  But deference to the sensibilities of Spirit Whales who, according to native Australian fables, tell the fish of the sea what to eat, when to mate, and where to migrate strikes me as rather problematic.

If somebody presents a report about environmental impacts, we can examine the evidence offered. And if the issue is a site’s historical or cultural significance, we have written historical context, archeological evidence and the degree of vocalized community support to guide decisions about protecting certain sites.  But how does one evaluate the testimony of someone who talks to Spirit Whales?  Is there a backup custodian or some record of methodology or documentation?

The Biden Administration has already enshrined “indigenous knowledge guidance” for all federal agencies. So, perhaps we should expect similar regulatory adventures here in the US soon.  Because I may be applying for a permit to build a new deck, I guess I should leave seeds and fruits out for the local Spirit Weasel, wood nymphs, or the Invisible Garter Snake who might otherwise inspire adverse testimony before the planning board. I will keep receipts of the fruit and seed purchases as evidence of conciliatory gestures should the need arise.

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  1. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Aren’t we all, in a very real sense, living on land appropriated from wood nymphs and Spirit Weasels?

    • #1
  2. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    wood nymphs and Spirit Weasels

    You cannot say those things around 12-year-old boys.

    • #2
  3. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    Old Bathos: build a theme park centered on sex, guns, and whiskey

    I’d invest in that.  On the Kentucky side of Cincinnati, right?

    • #3
  4. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness.  This is real.  An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny.  Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article.  Adults no longer exist, apparently.  The judge should have laughed her out of his court room.  But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon.  Silly me.  Apparently it’s not enough.

    • #4
  5. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness.  This is real.  An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    For me, the weirdest part was the lengthy judicial opinion that treated this like a mere regulatory oversight as if they failed to do a required report or failed to fill out a form on time.  If you search the opinion, the words “spirit” and “whale” do not appear!!

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Mock not the Spirit Weasel!

    • #6
  7. Lunchbox Gerald Coolidge
    Lunchbox Gerald
    @Jose

    “Spirit weasels!”  That explains a lot.

    • #7
  8. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    For me, the weirdest part was the lengthy judicial opinion that treated this like a mere regulatory oversight as if they failed to do a required report or failed to fill out a form on time. If you search the opinion, the words “spirit” and “whale” do not appear!!

    It might’ve been helpful if the judge had required the Spirit Whales to testify on their own behalf.

    • #8
  9. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    For me, the weirdest part was the lengthy judicial opinion that treated this like a mere regulatory oversight as if they failed to do a required report or failed to fill out a form on time. If you search the opinion, the words “spirit” and “whale” do not appear!!

    It might’ve been helpful if the judge had required the Spirit Whales to testify on their own behalf.

    Or at least demand evidence of power of attorney, witnesses to the exchange with the Spirit Whales, or a contract for legal representation. You will note in the opinion that the gas company had to pay her legal fees–what a great specialty being the lawyer for spokespersons for fictitious entities.  Getting paid for filing a class action on behalf of the regional Bigfoot community, joined by the Easter Bunny and Adam Schiff’s unnamed sources could be both fun and lucrative.

    • #9
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Old Bathos: For example, I would oppose paving over the Alamo or Yorktown or digging up an established Native American burial ground to build a theme park centered on sex, guns, and whiskey or a toxic smokestack plant (well, the toxic plant is out for sure).

    Native American land is sacred until the Native Americans get paid for it, like for a casino or something.

    • #10
  11. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: For example, I would oppose paving over the Alamo or Yorktown or digging up an established Native American burial ground to build a theme park centered on sex, guns, and whiskey or a toxic smokestack plant (well, the toxic plant is out for sure).

    Native American land is sacred until the Native Americans get paid for it, like for a casino or something.

    Harsh.  Accurate but harsh.

    • #11
  12. Lunchbox Gerald Coolidge
    Lunchbox Gerald
    @Jose

    Is the Spirit Whale in the room with us now?

    • #12
  13. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    It might’ve been helpful if the judge had required the Spirit Whales to testify on their own behalf.

    Ya know, what’s weird about this (well, one of the things that’s weird about this) is that he can’t respond.  Suppose the judge says, “Yeah, I talk to the spirit whales all the time.  We’re buds!  They say they’re happy that we’re drilling for natural gas there – no prob!  So we’re good!

    Ok, suppose the judge said that.  People would presume that he was lying.

    But this woman says it, and she is granted control over Australian energy policies.

    These are not serious people.  These are not serious times.

    • #13
  14. She Member
    She
    @She

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness.  This is real.  An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I wonder if anyone has spoken to this woman’s husband.

    If you’ve never read James Thurber’s The Unicorn in the Garden, now might be the time.  (It’s short.  And full of wisdom.)

    The Unicorn in the Garden - Wikipedia

    • #14
  15. The Notorious E.K.G. Moderator
    The Notorious E.K.G.
    @EKentGolding

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Aren’t we all, in a very real sense, living on land appropriated from wood nymphs and Spirit Weasels?

    We are governed by Weasels.

    • #15
  16. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny. Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article. Adults no longer exist, apparently. The judge should have laughed her out of his court room. But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    I presume the judge was high as a kite.

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny. Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article. Adults no longer exist, apparently. The judge should have laughed her out of his court room. But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    I presume the judge was high as a kite.

    From sniffing unicorn farts.

    • #17
  18. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny. Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article. Adults no longer exist, apparently. The judge should have laughed her out of his court room. But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    I presume the judge was high as a kite.

    I certainly hope so. 

    They should’ve done a drug screen.  If it was negative, they should’ve admitted him to a psych hospital.

    • #18
  19. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny. Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article. Adults no longer exist, apparently. The judge should have laughed her out of his court room. But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    I presume the judge was high as a kite.

    I certainly hope so.

    They should’ve done a drug screen. If it was negative, they should’ve admitted him to a psych hospital.

    If someone were casting a movie with this courtroom scene, you know the director would be asking for Cheech and Chong’s agents. 

    • #19
  20. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny. Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article. Adults no longer exist, apparently. The judge should have laughed her out of his court room. But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    I presume the judge was high as a kite.

    I certainly hope so.

    They should’ve done a drug screen. If it was negative, they should’ve admitted him to a psych hospital.

    If someone were casting a movie with this courtroom scene, you know the director would be asking for Cheech and Chong’s agents.

    Reminds me of certain hearings on federal judge appointments.

     

    • #20
  21. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny. Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article. Adults no longer exist, apparently. The judge should have laughed her out of his court room. But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    I presume the judge was high as a kite.

    I certainly hope so.

    They should’ve done a drug screen. If it was negative, they should’ve admitted him to a psych hospital.

    I suspect he thought he was cleverly serving the green agenda with an absurdly detailed exegesis of the regulatory requirements governing environmental impact without bothering to mention the utterly absurd item the company failed to consider.

    • #21
  22. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Lunchbox Gerald (View Comment):

    Is the Spirit Whale in the room with us now?

    No, it’s the elephant that is in the room. 

    • #22
  23. TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'. Coolidge
    TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'.
    @RobtGilsdorf

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Lunchbox Gerald (View Comment):

    Is the Spirit Whale in the room with us now?

    No, it’s the elephant that is in the room.

    Leviathan by any other name smells as unsweet. 

    • #23
  24. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon.  Silly me.  Apparently it’s not enough.

    Doc, you do make frequent reference to the consumption of bourbon. Or is it just my selective attention. I have a bH malted rye this evening. Not sure what I think about it yet, will probably have to try another one to be sure.

    • #24
  25. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    If I had wood nymphs and Spirit Weasels, I’d ply them with intoxicants and have my way with them. Network party.

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny. Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article. Adults no longer exist, apparently. The judge should have laughed her out of his court room. But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    I presume the judge was high as a kite.

    I do wonder how much of our trouble these days is down to people on drugs. 

    • #25
  26. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Barfly (View Comment):

    If I had wood nymphs and Spirit Weasels, I’d ply them with intoxicants and have my way with them. Network party.

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Before I commented that maybe, just maybe, you might be hitting the bourbon even harder than me, I went and checked out the link.

    This, apparently, is not satire or drunken foolishness. This is real. An indigenous Australian woman who pretends to believe that she has conversations with mythical whales that don’t exist got a judge to shut down a 16 billion dollar drilling project.

    I used to think this sort of thing was funny. Until an autistic Swedish teenage girl decided to skip school, and a few years later the European energy sector collapsed.

    In this day and age, adults would appear to be mythical creatures like the Spirit Whales mentioned in the article. Adults no longer exist, apparently. The judge should have laughed her out of his court room. But instead he gave her the power to dictate Australia’s energy policies.

    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    I presume the judge was high as a kite.

    I do wonder how much of our trouble these days is down to people on drugs.

    But don’t worry, legalizing drugs is just fine.

    • #26
  27. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    Doc, you do make frequent reference to the consumption of bourbon. Or is it just my selective attention. I have a bH malted rye this evening. Not sure what I think about it yet, will probably have to try another one to be sure.

    I suspect his references are less frequent than is his consumption. That’s certainly true in my case.

    (Woodford Reserve tonight, because I forgot to pick up another handle of the cheaper stuff last time I was in New Hampshire, so I’m dipping into the special-occasion stock.)

    • #27
  28. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    Doc, you do make frequent reference to the consumption of bourbon. Or is it just my selective attention. I have a bH malted rye this evening. Not sure what I think about it yet, will probably have to try another one to be sure.

    I suspect his references are less frequent than is his consumption. That’s certainly true in my case.

    (Woodford Reserve tonight, because I forgot to pick up another handle of the cheaper stuff last time I was in New Hampshire, so I’m dipping into the special-occasion stock.)

    I do like Woodford Reserve. I have a couple of bottles labeled for me and my Dad, from a lazy drive thru Kentucky. Unopened for 20 years now.

    • #28
  29. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    Here I thought I was drinking too much bourbon. Silly me. Apparently it’s not enough.

    Doc, you do make frequent reference to the consumption of bourbon. Or is it just my selective attention. I have a bH malted rye this evening. Not sure what I think about it yet, will probably have to try another one to be sure.

    I suspect his references are less frequent than is his consumption. That’s certainly true in my case.

    (Woodford Reserve tonight, because I forgot to pick up another handle of the cheaper stuff last time I was in New Hampshire, so I’m dipping into the special-occasion stock.)

    I do like Woodford Reserve. I have a couple of bottles labeled for me and my Dad, from a lazy drive thru Kentucky. Unopened for 20 years now.

    A dear friend lost his father within a month of me losing mine, earlier this year. I b0ught him a bottle of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked a couple of weeks ago. One of these days soon we’ll sit down and drink a toast to our dads (both of whom were robust imbibers).

    • #29
  30. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Barfly (View Comment):
    I do like Woodford Reserve. I have a couple of bottles labeled for me and my Dad, from a lazy drive thru Kentucky. Unopened for 20 years now.

    Ordinary Woodford Reserve is not that great (by my standards). But their Double Oaked is really nice.

    • #30
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