Editorials and Opinion
Editorial: New top environmental regulator should work for citizens, not ‘customers’ (Gaston Gazette [NC], 12/11/14)
"And three times the state stepped in to halt environmental groups’ lawsuits aimed at forcing Duke Energy to clean out its ash ponds. Under federal law, a lawsuit headed for the courts may be delayed if the state announces its intent to take action. But in North Carolina’s case, that action was much less than the environmentalists were seeking. Questions about the cozy relationship between DENR staff and the businesses they regulate did not originate with this administration; it has been an ongoing issue. Regulators do not have to be unnecessarily obstructionist."
Make sure federal courts fully staffed (Editor's Inbox) ( Mason City Globe Gazette [IA], 11/23/14)
Dean Genth: "I urge Sen. Chuck Grassley to use his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to make sure our federal courts are fully staffed.
Federal judges hear cases that directly affect the lives of everyday Americans, including cases addressing clean air and water,... Many of the pending nominees are the result of bipartisan agreement."
Letter of the Day: A chance to address judicial backlog (Tampa Tribune [FL] , 11/13/14)
Mark Ferrulo: "there is a critical opportunity for senators to demonstrate that they can set aside differences and get the people’s work done. How? By moving quickly to fill the remaining judicial vacancies that have hamstrung our court system. Federal courts rule on cases that directly impact our lives, including cases addressing pollution, immigration, bankruptcy, equal rights, access to health care and more. But without adequate staffing, cases get backlogged, and justice cannot be served. There are more than 60 judicial openings across our federal court system, and many of these vacancies have languished for months or even years due to partisan gridlock and obstruction. Across the country, these vacancies are seriously impacting citizens’ ability to have their day in court."
Editorial: Mountaintop removal gets another strike against it (Independent [Ashland, KY], 10/23/14)
"Most of us know the massive damage mountaintop removal mining does to the environment by leveling hilltops to get to the coal and then leaving the site without trees and top soil. In addition, thousands of miles of waterways are buried under tons of rock, totally destroying them. That alone should be more than enough for federal and state regulatory agencies to greatly limit mountaintop mining ... Most of us know the massive damage mountaintop removal mining does to the environment by leveling hilltops to get to the coal and then leaving the site without trees and top soil. In addition, thousands of miles of waterways are buried under tons of rock, totally destroying them.
That alone should be more than enough for federal and state regulatory agencies to greatly limit mountaintop mining"
EDITORIAL: The dirty effects of mountaintop removal mining (Washington Post, 10/22/14)
"Burning coal has a host of drawbacks: It produces both planet-warming carbon dioxide and deadly conventional air pollutants. Removing layers of mountaintop in the extraction process aggravates the damage. The displaced earth must go somewhere, typically into adjoining valleys, affecting the streams that run through them. The dust that’s blown into the air on mountaintop removal sites, meanwhile, is suspected to be unhealthy for mine workers and nearby communities.... The Clean Water Act gives the government wide authority over industrial operations that change rivers and streams.... the Obama administration once again prevailed in court, beating back another industry challenge. ... The EPA is right to move more firmly to protect health and environment."
EDITORIAL: Road kill: Overconsumption threatens the world’s wildlife (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA] , 10/03/14)
"World leaders need to take seriously the WWF’s call for international talks on sustainable development goals and actions, including on climate change, that will reduce the depletion of resources and the harm to Earth’s wildlife."
EDITORIAL: Mr. Obama’s Pacific Monument (New York Times, 10/02/14)
"President Obama last week, in addition to everything else on his plate, created the largest marine preserve in the world....at a time when the world’s oceans are threatened by rampant pollution, overfishing and climate change, the benefits of Mr. Obama’s decision will be profound,...out there beyond Honolulu, living in splendid isolation, are sharks, rays and jacks; coconut crabs; moosehorn, staghorn and brain corals; humpback and melon-headed whales; green and hawksbill turtles; bottlenose and spinner dolphins; and untold millions of boobies, curlews and plovers. All these, and countless other living things, will be better off."
Editorial: Climate Change; A Continuing Threat to the Health of the World’s Population (Journal of the American Medical Association, 09/22/14)
Dr. Howard Bauchner, editor-in-chief and Dr. Phil Fontanarosa, executive editor: " it is critical to recognize that climate change poses the same threat to health as the lack of sanitation, clean water, and pollution did in the early 20th century. Understanding and characterizing this threat and educating the medical community, public, and policy makers are crucial if the health of the world’s population is to continue to improve during the latter half of the 21st century."
EDITORIAL: A bill not vetoed (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 09/11/14)
"Yet, dealing with coal ash is a long-term project. The governor should propose the next steps and work more productively with the legislature in 2015 to do a better job of protecting North Carolina’s water from further harm."
Editorial: State learning lessons from coal ash spill? (Gaston Gazette [NC], 09/10/14)
" If nothing else, the coal ash spill in Rockingham County has forced state regulators and politicians to take a look at how things are done when it comes to clean water and other environmental issues. It wasn’t a pretty sight from the start....the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced that it’s moving to fine Duke Energy for pollution leaching into groundwater from two unlined ash dumps ... Perhaps the state is learning some lessons. We hope so."
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: 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."
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: 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."
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."
EDITORIAL: Don't reduce protection for endangered waters (Sun Sentinel [FL], 08/29/14)
"The bill would block a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule intended to bring much-needed clarity to which streams and wetlands are subject to protection under the federal Clean Water Act. ... But Florida hasn't earned the right to be trusted with more control. ... Wetlands are a vital link in Florida's water supply. They store and filter water, and replenish aquifers, streams, rivers and lakes. They provide flood protection and habitat for wildlife. They are critical to the life cycles of many fish and birds.
Federal authority to protect wetlands has been in question since a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. ... Leaders from Florida, of all states, shouldn't stand in the way of a federal effort to reinforce protection for water."
Editorial: Manatees still need maximum protection status (St. Augustine Record [FL] , 08/19/14)
"Federal Fish & Wildlife folks are looking at removing the manatee from the endangered list, under threat of a lawsuit by a group described as having a libertarian bent.... The group that sued is the Pacific Legal Foundation (on behalf of Save Crystal River Inc. — made up largely of economic interests in the area that don’t agree with off-limits manatee zones and lots of idle-speed zones set up to protect the lumbering sea cows from injury or death by the props of outboard motors).... The suffocation of the Indian River Lagoon system, which covers nearly 40 percent of Florida’s east coast, is a strong cause for concern for the health of manatee stocks over the next few years — or far beyond. It makes sense to keep their classification at the endangered level until all effects can be studied."
EDITORIAL: Our View: The Wilderness Act has earned its keep (Idaho Statesman, 08/17/14)
"In an age of legislative gridlock characterized by polarized views on public lands ...would things such as the Wilderness Act, the Clean Water Act (1948) the Clean Air Act (1963) and the Endangered Species Act (1973) have a prayer of passage? ... We Americans have a funny way of resisting big, bold moves at the time of consideration. But generations later, many of these monumental public-land moves gain respect, and we can hardly imagine a time or a future without them."
Journal Times editorial: More must be done to protect state's water supply (Journal Times [Racine, WI], 08/14/14)
"[R]egulations safeguarding water cannot be subject to complaints of “it’s too expensive to comply.” Water is not a profit/loss issue or a standard-of-living issue, it’s a necessity of life. The Legislature should reconsider its weakening of the state’s phosphorus standard and restore the protections to Wisconsin’s sources of drinking water. We don’t want one of our cities to become the next Toledo, or the next Charleston."
Editorial: Toledo water woes a wake-up call; In a modern U.S. city some 400,000 residents went days without water after an algae bloom turned the waters of Lake Erie into something resembling pea soup. (Shreveport Times [LA], 08/10/14)
"This crisis was almost entirely man-made.... Shreveport also takes its water supply from surface water ... This type of algae needs warm temperatures, nitrogen and phosphorus to grow. Nitrogen and phosphorus arrive in lake waters via sewerage overflows and runoff that contains agricultural and residential fertilizers. Humankind is providing the warmer temperatures through climate change.... At the federal level, lawmakers should stand firm behind the Clean Water Act.... There’s no credible scientific counterweight to the prevailing opinion that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity. Yet policymakers continue to wrangle over the reality of climate change as though it’s fringe science. There are sensible steps that can and should be taken to curb human behavior that causes climate change, but it’s a question many lawmakers aren’t taking seriously."
Editorial: Nobody wants to be the next Toledo (Lima News [OH] , 08/10/14)
"Nobody wants to be the next Toledo, where nearly a half million people were told last weekend they couldn’t use city water to drink, bathe or even brush their teeth.... the toxic algae plumes that caused the problem remain in Lake Erie. They are a product of intensive farming, animal confinements, urbanization and industrialization.... A federal commitment to a multi-state effort is essential"
Editorial: No slime-green water for us, please (Cincinnati Enquirer [OH] , 08/09/14)
"The opaque, slime-green water found in Toledo last weekend should be a wake-up call to residents in Ohio and across the country about the need to protect our natural resources."
EDITORIAL: Clean water not something to be taken for granted (Observer-Reporter [PA], 08/09/14)
"Responding to court decisions that weakened the Clean Water Act during the last decade, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are now attempting to close loopholes in the law that prevents it from protecting 2 million miles of streams and at least 20 million acres of wetlands around the country. Of course, these wetlands and streams feed into rivers that are our primary sources for drinking water, so conservation efforts aimed at these tributaries would be good for us all and a boon to fishermen, since many fish spawn in small streams."
EDITORIAL: We cannot forget to protect our water supply (Morning News [SC], 08/09/14)
"An algae bloom turned the waters of Lake Erie from a crisp blue to a murky green. The algae is fed by toxins from excess nutrients flowing into the water from agricultural areas, urban sewage and industrial waste....Maintaining a water supply that is plentiful and healthy takes a steady flow of funds, restrictions on runoff and comprehensive monitoring programs to ensure compliance. It also calls on us to be responsible. The issues in Toledo were almost entirely man-made."
EDITORIAL: About Lake Erie (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 08/09/14)
"What must Ohio, neighboring states and Canada do to curb the prevalence of the harmful algal blooms that recently triggered the water crisis in Toledo and could bring the same to other communities? Reduce the level of phosphorus flowing into Lake Erie. ... Restored wetlands would be helpful.... ultimately means bringing regulations with teeth to the farm industry ... The federal Environmental Protection Agency belongs at the lead, armed with the Clean Water Act. Governors must mobilize their states."
Toxic blooms in western basin of Lake Erie a harbinger of scum to come: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH] , 08/08/14)
"Ohio legislators and the governor's office have yet to show they understand the urgency of the threat and are mobilizing against it.... We know that climate change and invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels play a vital supporting role in compromising the well-being of our fragile freshwater ecosystem – the source of drinking water for 11 million people on both sides of the border. We know that this toxic soup threatens to undo much of what has been achieved in the last 42 years in cleaning up the lake and her watershed since the 1972 Clean Water Act was enacted."
EDITORIAL: Green, but not with envy (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA] , 08/08/14)
"Lake Erie is not unique. Algae blooms feast on excessive agricultural runoff around the world. The Gulf of Mexico experienced one last year that was as big as Connecticut. Another bloom killed scores of manatees in Florida last year, and still another sickened hundreds of marine mammals along California’s central coast. Yet, public policy is slow to respond, and sometimes has been counterproductive. An initiative that just passed in Missouri, and which is gaining momentum in some other agricultural states, would prevent states from implementing the very measures that would diminish agricultural pollution. Called “right to farm,” it also is a right to pollute."