Tales of the Red Tape: Tackling Serious Matters in Washington, D.C.

Diane Katz /

The nation’s capital is wracked by indecision these days. Raise the debt limit, or no? Don’t ask, don’t tell, or do? And, how will President Obama obfuscate this week on Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Egypt, or Iran? But take heart, dear citizens, all is not so murky. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has settled on how to distinguish serious injuries from non-serious injury to seals, dolphins, whales, and their Cetacean kin.

The task is in keeping with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which requires the good folks at the NMFS to catalog the human-caused injuries and deaths of marine mammals. As when one gets entangled in a fishing net or inadvertently hooked, for example. Ergo, there must be a standardized definition of “serious injury” (as opposed to a non-serious one).

Accordingly, NMFS convened a “Serious Injury Technical Workshop” in 2007 to draft just such guidance, which ultimately resulted in a definition of “serious injury” as “Any injury that will likely result in mortality.’’

Alas, consternation ensued. That definition, it seems, invites subjective interpretation of the likelihood that an injury will result in death (i.e., serious).

Now, four years hence, the agency has hit upon a solution, which was unveiled to the world on July 18. Forthwith, “serious injury” will be defined as “Any injury that is more likely than not to result in mortality.”

Who now dares say that government is unproductive?

#1: We See Dead People

#2: The EPA Is Fueling Nonsense

#3: Don’t Touch That Dial!

#4: The Unwitting Peddlers of Toxic Tomes

#5: Calorie Counts Forced Down Our Throats

#6: Equine Equality Under the ADA

#7: Energy Department Plumbing for More Regulatory Powers

#8: How Many Hazmat Suits Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

#9: Regulators Going Off on Microwave Ovens

#10: The State Department’s Passport Inquisition

#11: Circumcising Principle in San Francisco

#12: Regulatory Grapes of Wrath

#13: An “F” for Train Regulation

#14: Old MacDonald’s Commodity Cartel

#15: More Regulatory Manure from USDA