Editorials and Opinion
Editorial: Saving the monarchs, and more (Pocono Record [PA] , 02/10/15)
"$3.2 million is a drop in the bucket of the federal budget, and the effort may not accomplish much unless the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also classifies the monarch as a threatened species, as it deserves. ... Yet this iconic insect is really no more important than many more obscure species of plants and animals that are disappearing with alarming rapidity. ... Mother Nature is a complex web, humans only a part of it. Each species plays a unique role, and the fewer species that survive the more humans will rely on them for their own survival. Habitat protection will help the monarch, but the species would also benefit from the legal protection of being classified as threatened."
EDITORIAL: Captain Sam’s deserves protection (Post and Courier [SC], 02/01/15)
"Equally devastating would be the damage to wildlife habitat. Numerous shorebirds, including at least one endangered and one threatened species can be found on Captain Sam’s Spit. ... The legislature needs to stand strong and pass a law to preserve public beaches for the public and for the Lowcountry's extraordinary wildlife."
PD Editorial: No more red herrings in water talks (Press Democrat [CA] , 01/25/15)
"Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t bite on the smelt vs. farmers argument. Last week, the justices rejected an appeal from the Westlands and Metropolitan water districts, among others, seeking to overturn limits on pumping water from the Delta into canals serving Central Valley growers and Southern California cities. Those limits were put in place to protect the smelt as well as several species of salmon .... The pumping limits withstood scrutiny from the National Academy of Sciences and the federal courts, but .... House members from the Central Valley are again sponsoring legislation to waive the Endangered Species Act as it relates to the delta smelt. But the problem isn’t a tiny endangered fish. It’s a lack of water"
EDITORIAL: Fish & Wildlife hire merits watching (The Olympian [WA], 01/22/15)
"Idaho has not taken a progressive view toward the challenges of wolf management, for example – certainly not one that reflects the values of most Washingtonians, nor one that has sought innovative ways of dealing with conflict between ranchers and wolves.... research recently conducted at Washington State University has found that killing wolves to manage the conflict with livestock actually fosters the reverse outcome.,,, We hope Unsworth will embrace a commitment to sustaining healthy populations of all Washington’s creatures. Keeping as many species as possible on the landscape – biodiversity – is critical, and wolves are an important keystone species."
EDITORIAL: Saving the wolves (Toledo Blade [OH], 01/21/15)
"The issue has been at least temporarily resolved by a federal court ruling that wolves remain an endangered species in Michigan, and may not be hunted. But wolves — and the ecology — are endangered on Isle Royale, a 206-square mile national park in Lake Superior. There, a native wolf pack has dwindled, thanks to generations of inbreeding, to no more than nine animals. As a result, the moose population is out of control. Moose are stripping vegetation at an alarming rate and may face mass starvation. Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagan has offered his help in capturing wolf packs from the Upper Peninsula and transporting them to Isle Royale, That would be a win for all concerned. The Legislature should speedily authorize this proposal, for the benefit of both man and beasts."
Editorial: Little fish could be delta’s savior (Chico Enterprise-Record [CA], 01/13/15)
"Delta smelt, though, are a marker species, the canary in the delta coal mine. When they start going away, it means the delta ecosystem is in bad shape and other species will follow. That’s what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said back in 2008. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that biological opinion Monday, agreeing with an earlier ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that was challenged to the highest level.... The delta ecosystem — that includes the smelt — shouldn’t have to pay for the poor decisions of San Joaquin farmers and cities.... Nobody should be surprised by environmental restrictions. The government and the courts have long recognized that you can’t just take whatever the environment has.... San Joaquin Valley farmers who feel put off by Monday’s Supreme Court ruling should know there is some precedent. When salmon stocks dwindled in the Sacramento River system, north state farmers made many expensive improvements — things like screening canals, or changing seasonal irrigation schedules, or leaving sensitive land fallow. It has helped immensely .... The delta smelt have been listed as a threatened species since 1993. It’s not like the people complaining about the decision couldn’t see it coming. They just didn’t want to admit that they had to do their part to help a failing ecosystem."
EDITORIAL: Planet Earth, the half-empty zoo (Chicago Tribune, 01/02/15)
"[I]n the 40 years preceding 2010, the world's population of vertebrate animals — our mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians — plummeted by 52 percent.... Many people give only so much bandwidth to environmental crises that seem hopeless and out of reach. Yet the extermination of wildlife is neither. ... Each of us can support these efforts even if we can't single-handedly save what remains of the animal kingdom. We can also push our politicians"
EDITORIAL: Written in feathers (Idaho Mountain Express, 01/02/15)
"A rider in the bill, which had absolutely nothing to do with keeping the government running and everything to do with lawmakers paying back influential donors and constituents, prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service from issuing rules to place sage grouse on the endangered species list. The agency was facing a court-ordered deadline of September 2015 to decide if the grouse would be placed on the endangered species list. ... What they can do is tell us where our common habitat is headed and perhaps foretell our own future if things don’t change. But the sage grouse can only tell us this if we look closely and listen. This will be helpful only if we act intelligently, boldly and soon to protect what sustains those with feathers and those without."
Editorial: More ups than downs (Houston Chronicle, 01/02/15)
"(up)We're aflutter over the seemingly good news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which this week announced it will be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act. Texas is part of the regal butterfly's flyway when it makes it annual 3,000-mile trek from south central Mexico to Canada. The orange-and-black beauty has been under threat because of habitat loss - the agency's press release indicates the loss of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's sole food source, has been hit hard - and mortality due to pesticide use. Those wishing to add their voices to the issue have until March 2 to do so."
EDITORIAL: Black bear roars back (News-Star [LA], 12/27/14)
"Officials enrolled Louisiana black bears in the Endangered Species Act program in 1992. When Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham was appointed in 2008, his goal was to save the teddy bear. To the relief of the children and the satisfaction of conservationists, Barham's goal is close at hand....Any decision to remove the black bear from the list should be accompanied by clear guidelines to further encourage the revitalization of the species. we agree with Barham's contention: Restoration of any threatened species should be a priority for his department. Some will argue it should be the top priority.... The recovery of the Louisiana black bear is a Louisiana success story."
EDITORIAL: Don't backtrack on bobcats, Governor (Chicago Tribune, 12/24/14)
"Six months ago, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that, when it takes effect next Thursday, will enrich every citizen of Illinois: It adds the black bear, gray wolf and cougar to the state's list of protected species. ... Even though a species has rebounded from near extinction, humans shouldn't take that as license to return to the practices that nearly wiped out the animal in the first place."
EDITORIAL: The last-minute ‘cromnibus’ federal spending bill invites too much abuse (Kansas City Star, 12/16/14)
"Lawmakers — primarily Republicans — inserted inappropriate pet causes, pork and pandering to special interests....Policy riders in the bill were even worse. ... Among the other conservative priorities slipped into the bill were ... prohibiting regulations on light bulb efficiency; prohibiting bans of lead ammunition used in hunting; making school lunches less healthy; and forbidding naturalists from classifying two sage-grouse species that are dying off as endangered, an anti-environmentalist move that’s music to the ears of Kansas conservatives. All of those might be reasonable topics for discussion. If so, they should go through the normal, deliberative legislative process that allows ample time for analysis and public comment."
EDITORIAL: Hiding Bad Policy in a Budget Bill (New York Times, 12/12/14)
"The Fish and Wildlife Service would be banned from adding the greater sage grouse to the endangered species list — a victory for the gas and oil industry, which covets even more of America’s threatened Western landscapes than it already has access to."
EDITORIAL: High court decision saves Captain Sam's (Post and Courier [SC], 12/11/14)
"The South Carolina Supreme Court dealt a formidable blow on Wednesday to a long-contested development proposed by Kiawah Development Partners along a narrow strip of pristine barrier island. The court's decision should finally put an end to a bad idea....Captain Sam's Spit serves as irreplaceable habitat for numerous shorebirds, including at least one endangered and one threatened species.... Those assets merit protection, and both the South Carolina Legislature and the state Supreme Court agree.
In the court's majority opinion, Justice Kaye Hearn wrote, "To allow the benefits to a private developer to override the interests of the people of South Carolina undermines the [S.C. Coastal Zone Management Act] statute and defeats the very purpose of the public trust doctrine.""
Editorial: Winners and losers: Mike Riley, wolf deaths (Statesman Journal [OR], 12/04/14)
"LOSER: Killing wolves. Research conducted through Washington State University found that wolf kills in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming actually increased the number of sheep and cattle killed by wolves the following year. "The reason appears to be that killing the alpha male or female in a pack frees the other wolves to start breeding. And breeding pairs trying to feed pups are more likely to kill livestock than individual wolves," the Associated Press said, quoting wildlife ecology professor Rob Wielgus. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife paid for the study, which was published in the journal PLOS One."
Editorial: A somber record for the Florida panther (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 12/02/14)
"Drivers needs to be alert in panther territory. But more importantly, public officials should show renewed support for conservation efforts to preserve the state's most endangered symbol. One worthy idea is the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which aims to create a sustainable path for wildlife stretching from the Everglades to Georgia and Alabama .... if people don't support conservation efforts, future generations might be able to see the Florida panther only on the special license plate of a car."
EDITORIAL: Japan Is Back in the Hunt for Whales (New York Times, 11/30/14)
"Claiming purely “scientific” motives, Japan’s political leaders are cynically planning to resume whale hunting in the Southern Ocean, despite the International Court of Justice finding that the Japanese government regularly violated its obligations under the international ban against commercial whaling off Antarctica."
GUEST COLUMN: Tester, Daines wrong on Equal Access to Justice Act (Missoulian [MT], 11/12/14)
Mike Garrity: "The Missoulian’s article on citizen enforcement of natural resource laws would have been more informative for readers had it concentrated on why the U.S. Forest Service keeps losing lawsuits over and over for the same reasons instead of the fees awarded to plaintiffs’ attorneys under the Equal Access to Justice Act.... While the timber industry wants the public to focus on the cost of litigation, it’s a pittance compared to the majority of the agency’s $1 billion budget in Montana over the last five years that provides corporate welfare for the timber industry to extract resources from publicly owned forests for private profit.... any costs awarded under the Equal Access to Justice Act goes entirely to attorney fees, not the organizations they represent. The article also neglected to make clear that it costs the conservation groups thousands of dollars each time they sue the federal government because, even if we win, only the attorneys are reimbursed for the time they spent on the case."
Opinion: Tester and Daines wrong on Equal Access to Justice Act (Independent Record [MT], 10/26/14)
Mike Garrity: "Montanans should also find it disturbing that Montana’s Republican Congressman, Steve Daines, and Democratic Senator, Jon Tester, have both said it’s the Equal Access to Justice Act that needs to be changed to keep attorneys from getting paid when they successfully sue the federal government. ... perhaps they would benefit from reading a little of the very long history on the purpose of attorney fee laws. For instance, take the words of Chief Judge Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who was appointed by President Reagan. “Lawyers must eat, so they generally won't take cases without a reasonable prospect of getting paid,” Kozinski wrote in the 2008 Moreno v. City of Sacramento ruling. “If private citizens are to be able to assert their civil rights, and if those who violate the Nation['s] fundamental laws are not to proceed with impunity, then citizens must have the opportunity to recover what it costs them to vindicate these rights in court.’ Congress emphasized the importance of attorneys' fees in cases seeking injunctive relief, where there is no monetary light at the end of the litigation tunnel: ‘If successful plaintiffs were routinely forced to bear their own attorneys' fees, few aggrieved parties would be in a position to advance the public interest by invoking the injunctive powers of the Federal courts.’”
Opinion: Another perspective on environmental law suits (Independent Record [MT], 10/19/14)
GEORGE WUERTHNER: "The real story is that ultimately environmental lawsuits save the taxpayer money by modifying or stopping frivolous timber sales. ... the Forest Service accounting practices do not include the environmental degradation and potential costs of fixing damage from logging. Logging roads are a major vector for weeds. Logging roads are also a major source of sedimentation in our rivers, degrading trout habitat. Logging can degrade elk hiding cover and displace sensitive but rare wildlife like lynx and grizzly bear."athe Forest Service accounting practices do not include the environmental degradation and potential costs of fixing damage from logging. Logging roads are a major vector for weeds. Logging roads are also a major source of sedimentation in our rivers, degrading trout habitat. Logging can degrade elk hiding cover and displace sensitive but rare wildlife like lynx and grizzly bear."
Editorial: Snake politics; Political pressure, not science, may decide the fate of a threatened snake species in Kansas. (Lawrence Journal-World [KS], 10/16/14)
"In the 40 years since passage of the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species Act, the wildlife commission has never overridden a recommendation from its task force that evaluates what species need protection....micromanagement by state legislators would be detrimental to the state, not to mention much of the wildlife that live here.
The future of the redbelly snake in Kansas is important but not as important as the precedent the wildlife commission would set by deciding this issue based not on science, but on the fear of political retribution by the Kansas Legislature."
EDITORIAL: Redbelly's future (Hays Daily News [KS], 10/16/14)
"[T]he redbelly snake ... have been listed as threatened under the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species Act for some time. And the task committee that reviews the state list every five years recently has recommended the redbelly remain "threatened."... Jennison should take a stand on principles. Jennison might find himself dismissed from the governor's cabinet, but the redbelly snake would have a chance of continuing to be protected. ... It appears likely the redbelly snake is going to be thrown under the bus -- or the earth-mover in this case. The primary person entrusted with its survival, Secretary Jennison, should not be the one issuing the death sentence."