I must admit I reach first for the sports page in the morning. The headlines on the front page of the Washington Post these days are just too depressing to be the first things I face.

So imagine my surprise last weekend when I found biting environmental-policy commentary in section E. Never one to read fishing or hunting commentaries, the pictures of bloviating politicians smack in the middle of renowned wildlife columnist Angus Phillips’ column caught my attention.

Titled “Party Talk Leaves Plenty of Room for Action,” Phillips absolutely dismantles a Washington press event on the Potomac (literally — there were optional canoe trips) to announce the everything’s-voluntary-and-we-won’t-really-fund-it National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

Showing that he could have a second career as a political reporter, Phillips concludes with:

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Ever the skeptic, my eye went straight to what looks like a key paragraph in the action plan, headed, “non-regulatory.” It says, “These voluntary projects will supplement the existing foundation of regulatory programs that protect aquatic habitats from pollution and degradation.”

Well, in this cranky old man’s view, if the government was doing its job protecting aquatic habitats from pollution and degradation instead of running around forming “partnerships” with the people largely responsible for wrecking those resources in the first place, we might not need a National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

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