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Senate’s unfinished business: Fill judicial vacancies (The Hill, 09/17/14)
Raymond M. Lodato: "While several bills are making their way through the upper house, the arena in which it can have the most impact is in confirming President Obama’s judicial nominees. So far this year, the upper house has filled 68 vacancies on the Federal bench, more than in all of 2013. However, even with the increased pace, 60 vacancies remain on Federal district and appellate benches. Each vacancy in the Federal courts increases the burden on active and senior judges (who work a reduced number of cases in semi-retirement) and delays the administration of justice for individuals, businesses, and non-profit groups seeking resolution of their claims. Nearly two dozen of the vacancies have been classified as “judicial emergencies” because of the length of time they have been unfilled and the number of cases in their jurisdictions."

Confirm Leeson, other U.S. judicial nominees (Morning Call [PA], 09/16/14)
Christine Stone, co-chair of Pennsylvania Coalition for Constitutional Values, Letter to the Editor: "With just a handful of voting days left before the Senate leaves for the November elections, Sen. Toomey must play a leadership role in discouraging his party from delaying and obstructing federal court judicial nominees just because they can. Sen. Toomey understands the importance of addressing the nation's judicial vacancy crisis. He should use his considerable influence to get his party to abandon their obstruction and delay of judiciary committee votes and instead send the nominations of consensus Pennsylvania nominees like Wendy Beetlestone, Gerald Pappert, Joseph Leeson, Jr. and Mark Kearney to the full Senate for a vote. When these jurists were nominated, both Sens. Casey and Toomey publicly voiced their strong support. Sen. Toomey also noted that a vote on Mr. Leeson's nomination would mean that for the first time the Allentown courthouse would have two sitting federal district court judges."

Another aspect of a presidential legacy: the courts (Maddow Blog {MSNBC], 09/16/14)
Steve Benen: "the direction of the federal judiciary can and does have a considerable impact on the direction of the nation. ... ince Republicans effectively forced Senate Democrats to go “nuclear,” the irony is GOP senators have helped ensure an important aspect of Obama’s presidential legacy.... At least for now, this means Obama and Senate Democrats have created a more progressive and more diverse judiciary. Sahil Kapur added there are currently 50 vacancies on the district courts and 7 vacancies in the appeals courts, probably with more on the way. There may even be a Supreme Court vacancy in the near future."

Editorial: Restoration pays off in record salmon returns (Daily Astorian [OR] , 09/15/14)
"[I]t must be noted that little of this would have been achieved without the strong pressure provided by the Endangered Species Act and the determined legal wits of federal Judge James Redden. And though the term “environmental group” is seldom one that engenders warm feelings in the rural Pacific Northwest, the advocacy and legal muscle provided by groups such as Earthjustice have been key in maintaining agency focus on salmon survival."

ISSUE | JUDICIAL VACANCIES: Sen. Toomey can help fit these robes (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 09/15/14)
Christine M. Stone and Jodi Hirsh, cochairs, PA Coalition for Constitutional Values, Letter to the Editor: "Pennsylvanians can't afford to let the U.S. Senate play politics with eight federal judicial vacancies. Unnecessary delays on judicial nominations cause real, lasting consequences for Americans seeking justice. With a handful of voting days left before the Senate leaves for the November elections, partisan politics need to be put aside. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) must play a leadership role, having publicly committed to working with Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) to fill the vacancies. He should use his considerable influence to get his party to abandon its obstruction and delay of Judiciary Committee votes and send the nominations of consensus Pennsylvania nominees like Wendy Beetlestone, Gerald J. Pappert, Joseph F. Leeson Jr., and Mark A. Kearney to the full Senate for a vote."

It's taken 2 decades for Congress to do right (Des Moines Register [IA] , 09/13/14)
Rox Laird, Opinion column: "On July 16, Ronnie White was confirmed as a federal trial judge in Missouri by the U.S. Senate 17 years after he was first appointed by President Bill Clinton. The appointment of White — an African-American lawyer and former Missouri Supreme Court justice — to the federal court is an important symbol of the progress blacks have made in a city where the slave trade once flourished. Yet, White's backers saw racism in the campaign by Senate Republicans to reject his nomination nearly two decades earlier. ...Iowa's Sen. Chuck Grassley voted against White both times and delivered a lengthy statement giving his reasons. ... the progress from slave trade to a black man sitting on the federal bench is a long distance. Sadly, whether because of race or the Senate's broken confirmation system, Ronnie White almost did not make the trip."

EDITORIAL: Deep hole for denial (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA] , 09/12/14)
"Apparently, science and diplomacy can work to solve atmospheric change caused by pollution — and to blow a gigantic hole in the arguments of those who deny climate change and humanity’s role in it. According to a global group of 300 scientists, for the first time in 35 years, the fragile stratospheric ozone layer, which protects the Earth and its inhabitants from dangerous levels of solar radiation, has begun to recover."

Too much carbon, too little time [Editorial]; Our view: New report shows record levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, potentially accelerating the climate change timetable (Baltimore Sun, 09/11/14)
"If increasingly extreme weather events around the world weren't alarming enough, the latest monitoring by the World Meteorological Organization shows last year was the worst ever for rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Their report released Tuesday demonstrates why efforts to curb climate change deserve to be a top priority for U.S. foreign policy."

EDITORIAL: Just do your job, feds, for the wolves; Our View: If the feds had done their job, they wouldn't be facing another lawsuit over the Mexican grey wolf. (Arizona Republic, 09/11/14)
"If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had done its job, it wouldn't be facing another lawsuit over the Mexican gray wolf recovery effort.... So, you can't expect advocates for the wolf-reintroduction effort to ignore the foot dragging. A coalition of environmental groups has announced its intention to sue the feds. Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center are joined by wildlife biologist Dave Parsons ...Instead of defending itself in court, Fish and Wildlife should be busy restoring a healthy, sustainable population of Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest."

Environmentalists to sue over wolves (Arizona Republic, 09/10/14)
Linda Valdez, columnist: "A well-respected biologist is among those who today announced plans to sue the feds for shirking their duty to the Mexican gray wolf....Joining him in the notification of an intent to sue are Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center. They are being represented by Earthjustice.... Fish and Wildlife should honor the Endangered Species Act and just get the recovery plan done – without waiting for a long litigation process to mandate it. The agency should write a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf based on science and only science."

A New Reason to Confirm Texas Judicial Nominees This Fall (People For blog, 09/08/14)
"The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts this morning formally reclassified a longstanding judicial vacancy in southern Texas as a judicial emergency... Of the Lone Star State's 11 current vacancies, eight of them are judicial emergencies, and eight of them have no nominees. Those numbers are too high. Fortunately, nominees for three of the state's emergencies are having hearings before the Judiciary Committee tomorrow: Amos Mazzant, Trey Schroeder, and Robert Pitman. They have the support of the White House that nominated them and the two Republican senators who recommended them. ... If the Judiciary Committee can vote them out before leaving town later this month, the Senate should be able to hold a confirmation vote before the election. Otherwise, senators will need to come back to approve them in a lame duck session."

Editorial: Bataclysm Now (Chicago Tribune, 09/08/14)
"[B]ats are vital to the ecology of Earth, which is where humans also live. Bats consume tons of insects, including crop pests and mosquitoes ... Our native bats are in mortal danger from a disease called "white-nose syndrome."... Amazing creatures. Not to be feared, but to be appreciated … and rescued."

EDITORIAL Our View: Manatees an endangered species (News Herald [Panama, FL], 09/08/14)
"Although manatees have benefited from protections associated with its status under the Endangered Species Act, the potential danger of extinction should weigh heavily on the Fish and Wildlife Service."

EDITORIAL: Florida's manatees deserve continued protection (Herald [Bradenton, FL] , 09/06/14)
"Speaking of nature, the manatee is one of the wonders of our waters. ... But there's a fight about the manatee's federal endangered species designation, one that a group of boaters, businesses and other interests want to downgrade to merely threatened. That reduced protection would put manatees in line for hits by boats no longer bound by speeding limits in designated areas. ... The birth rate apparently keeps the manatee population stable, but the nation should be promoting growth. These creatures are one of Florida treasures, a tourist magnet and thus an economic resource that should be nurtured."

EDITORIAL Our view: Better take care of bats (Star Press [Muncie, IN], 09/06/14)
"[W]ithout bats, the world would be much worse off, and our food would cost us more to buy.... The pest-control advantage bats offer has been valued in studies from a low of $3.7 billion to a whopping $53 billion a year. ... Unfortunately, bats in Indiana and in much of the eastern U.S. are dying at a frightening rate from a fungus called white-nose syndrome ... The near destruction of the nation's bat population warrants intense research into efforts to control and hopefully eradicate this fungus."

EDITORIAL: Sacred sea cows: Protect manatees (Northwest Florida Daily News, 09/05/14)
"The mortality numbers are a clear indication that threats to the species have not been lessened, and in fact have increased and broadened. Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a “no” to a move to threatened status at this time."

‘Obamacare’ Challengers Lose Again (New Bedford Standard Times [MA] , 09/04/14)
JESSE WEGMAN, Editorial Page Editor's Blog: "On Thursday morning, as almost everyone predicted it would, the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., voted to toss out a three-judge panel’s ruling upholding the latest attempt to kill “Obamacare.” ...a key reason for the current makeup of the D.C. appeals court is the Senate’s reform of the filibuster process last fall, which was triggered by Republicans’ refusal to allow a vote on any of President Obama’s three nominees to that court. After the reform, all three nominees were confirmed. If anyone was wondering what the hue and cry over filibuster reform was really about in practice, the Halbig case is Exhibit A."

A century’s worth of difference in saving wildlife (Tampa Tribune [FL] , 09/04/14)
by Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife: "Though the ESA came too late to protect the passenger pigeon and Martha, it has effectively shielded thousands of species from their same fate."

Editorial: Dirty water politics (Ocala Star Banner [FL] , 09/04/14)
"The idea originally was to bring clarity to what waters and wetlands fall under Environmental Protection Agency purview, as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress. But so far, the only thing that is clear is that the opposition, led by Congressman Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, are more concerned about protecting big business and agriculture interests than protecting our state's steadily deteriorating rivers, lakes and springs. Southerland has introduced a bill in Congress, disingenuously named the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act," or H.R. 5078, that would virtually strip the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of any authority over Florida waterways and wetlands. ... The state's recent track record on water — slashed water-management budgets, relaxed water standards, lax enforcement and declining water quality and supply — hardly gives us reason to trust Florida's leaders to do right by our wetlands and waterways."

EDITORIAL: The making of a federal judge; OUR OPINION: Fifteen candidates were grilled Thursday to take seat on the bench (Miami Herald, 09/04/14)
"Despite accusations that the nominating process is highly political depending on whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House and that the confirmation process can also lead to rejection or drag on for months, Mr. Fitzgibbons said that’s not the case at this selection level."

Editorial: Don't weaken laws to protect Florida waters (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 09/03/14)
"The proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers would establish more clearly which waters deserve protection under the 1972 Clean Water Act. Two U.S. Supreme Court opinions have for the past decade clouded the issue of whether the federal law applies only to navigable waters. ... The federal rule merely clarifies what streams and wetlands would be protected.... Florida Republicans used the same tactic of misinformation several years ago on behalf of the state's biggest polluters to fight the federal government over clean water standards. They had the wrong allegiance then and they have the wrong allegiance now. Florida's congressional delegation should be the last ones urging Congress to weaken a law that protects some of this state's most precious resources."

[EDITORIAL] Environmental Concerns: Manatee Must Keep Its Status (Ledger [Lakeland, FL], 09/03/14)
"Powell's summary: Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a "no" to "downlisting" — a move to threatened status — at present. If threats to manatees have "increased and broadened," changing the classification not only defies science but good judgment."

EDITORIAL: Dead zone shows Bay's pollution problems (Virginian-Pilot, 09/03/14)
"After 30 years of trying and failing to do something about such problems, the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in to enforce a pollution diet on states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed....the thought of farmers and residents having to clean up their operations sparked a lawsuit from the American Farm Bureau Federation, homebuilders, chicken and pork growers and fertilizer makers. They've been joined by 21 states and several dozen members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Robert Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith and Robert Hurt, all from Virginia. Before the courts could hear the case, winter and spring rains this year washed a substantial amount of nitrogen and phosphorous off the bay's upstream farms and neighborhoods, and summer warmth made conditions just right for algae to grow in the Chesapeake. And, once again, it became clear that the Farm Bureau, the Dirty 21, and several dozen misguided lawmakers are on the wrong side of science, the environment and the Chesapeake Bay."

Jamie Rappaport Clark: Saving wildlife (Tallahassee Democrat [FL] , 09/03/14)
"Without a strong Endangered Species Act, the decline of many species would accelerate, until they too vanished, even ones so numerous that they darken the sun and the face of the earth."

Editorial: Endangered species (Gainesville Sun [FL] , 09/02/14)
"Despite the slow and very slight increase in the number of manatees during the past 50 years, threats to survival have increased. ... The mortality numbers are a clear indication that threats to the species have not been lessened, and in fact have increased and broadened. Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a “no” to a move to threatened status at this time."

EDITORIAL: Still Time for a Conservation Legacy (New York Times, 09/02/14)
"Wednesday is the 50th birthday of two of the nation’s most important environmental statutes: the Wilderness Act and the law establishing the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For those with long memories, it also commemorates a time when Congress could act productively in a bipartisan spirit that yielded not only these two laws but, within a few short years, landmark protections for clean air, clean water and endangered species. ... Neither law is getting the support it deserves from Congress."

Now-extinct passenger pigeon still teaches the importance of stewardship and conservation: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH] , 09/02/14)
"And this year, marking the centennial of her death, advocates hope to galvanize renewed attention to the need to broaden understanding about other North American species threatened with extinction, from bats and freshwater mussels to Massasauga rattlesnakes, which are endangered in Ohio. More than 190 museums, zoos, historical societies, universities, libraries and other organizations around the country -- including 19 in Ohio -- are involved in "Project Passenger Pigeon" to raise awareness about "lessons from the past for a sustainable future" and to involve more people in saving other species from extinction. It's an important and worthy effort."

Century's worth of difference in saving wildlife (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 09/01/14)
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife president and CEO: "The disappearance of passenger pigeons spurred an awakening and awareness about the value of preserving wildlife ... By the 1970s, this country had concluded that we should never again be responsible for the extinction of a native wildlife species. That is why Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA), our nation's most important safety net for imperiled animals and plants on the brink of extinction. Though the ESA came too late to protect the passenger pigeon and Martha, it has effectively shielded thousands of species from their fate. Thankfully, today, gray wolves, humpback whales, southern sea otters, peregrine falcons, and Florida manatees and panthers still walk this planet precisely because we vowed to protect them through the ESA. ... Without a strong ESA, the decline of many species would accelerate until they too vanished, even ones so numerous they darken the sun and the face of the Earth."

EDITORIAL: Ghost wings: 100 years ago the last passenger pigeon died (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA] , 09/01/14)
"The Endangered Species Act has allowed the miraculous comeback of birds like the bald eagles that nest within Pittsburgh’s city limits. But today government regulation is seen as a bogeyman and the Environmental Protection Agency is continually under attack. Next time such myopic sentiments are expressed, pause and hear the beating of ghost wings in the sky, carrying wisdom and warning from the past."

Opinion The new battle over Blair Mountain -- with lawyers instead of guns (Los Angeles Times, 09/01/14)
Scott Martelle: "Last week in a 2-1 vote, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the judge’s dismissal, deciding that the plaintiffs did have standing, in part because removing the surface of Blair Mountain would create a landscape where widely appreciated beauty now exists. In dissent, the lone “no” vote questioned whether anyone has a legal right to enjoy the view of another’s property, despite a litany of prior cases the majority cited."