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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Editorial: Protecting our birds of a feather  (Lompoc Record [CA], 02/20/14)
"The western snowy plover has been on the federal Endangered Species Act list as “threatened” for many years, and every state along the Pacific rim of the West Coast has restrictions regarding treatment of the birds from March to September. Protecting this bird species — any species, really — is vitally important to both the animal and the human kingdom. Once a species goes extinct, as the name implies, it’s gone forever, and the planet has lost something of irreplaceable value. And we can never be entirely certain what the loss of a species will mean in the overall scheme of things. Maybe it’s a little like pulling one stone out of a dam holding back a mighty river, and that one stone was the linchpin."

EDITORIAL: Protecting our birds of a feather (Santa Maria Times [CA], 02/20/14)
"The western snowy plover has been on the federal Endangered Species Act list as “threatened” for many years ... Protecting this bird species — any species, really — is vitally important to both the animal and the human kingdom. Once a species goes extinct, as the name implies, it’s gone forever, and the planet has lost something of irreplaceable value. And we can never be entirely certain what the loss of a species will mean in the overall scheme of things. Maybe it’s a little like pulling one stone out of a dam holding back a mighty river, and that one stone was the linchpin."

Editorial: Banning Ivory Sales in America (New York Times, 02/18/14)
"If rigorously enforced, the new rules should help slow the killings in Africa; the United States is the second-largest market for ivory in the world. ... Still, much will depend on whether Washington and the relevant departments — Interior, Justice and Treasury — are willing to put serious money and muscle into the program.... Assemblyman Robert Sweeney of Long Island supports a ban on all ivory sales in New York State, without exception. That would be tougher than the federal ban. But the federal ban will cover a wider market. It is a timely and welcome move."

Your Turn: The Endangered Species Act isn’t broken; Congress is (Independent Record [MT], 02/17/14)
David Chadwick, Montana Wildlife Federation executive director: "The ESA isn’t broken. Over the last 40 years, the law has functioned as intended to protect species that face imminent extinction. From the bald eagle to the American alligator to the gray wolf, the ESA has focused attention on animals that urgently need conservation. The law has rescued hundreds of species that would be gone from this Earth without it....It’s not enough for members of Congress to complain about endangered species, wait for disasters and then complain some more. The ESA doesn’t need to be rewritten. If our elected officials really want to improve how the law works, they would finish their promise to fund preventive conservation programs like the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program and State Wildlife Grants. Smart conservation investments will reduce conflicts, save money, and make the ESA work as intended for wildlife and people."

Editorial: Protecting red wolves: Rebounding breed should not be collateral damage (Winston-Salem Journal [NC] , 02/16/14)
"North Carolina boasts the world’s only wild population of endangered red wolves. That population shouldn’t become collateral damage to those thinning packs of pesky coyotes in the five northeastern counties where the red wolves live. The Southern Environmental Center, representing wolf advocacy groups, is trying to stop that from happening with a suit that seeks to block the state Wildlife Resources Commission’s decision to allow coyote hunting in those coastal counties.... red wolves, which were re-introduced to the North Carolina wild in 1987, have to be protected.... one thing seems certain: In the five counties in question, the state should ban coyote hunting until it establishes firm figures on the numbers of those animals, and establishes whether its plan to prevent cross-breeding and protect the endangered red wolves is working."

Editorial: To Save Fish and Birds (New York Times, 02/16/14)
"The researchers identified five essential characteristics of the most successful marine-protected areas: These areas were designated “no take” (allowing no fishing whatsoever), their rules were well enforced, they were more than 10 years old, they were bigger than 100 square kilometers, and they were isolated by deep water or sand.... Governments and scientists need to work together to better design, maintain, improve and protect “protected areas.”"

Editorial: Legislative focus; Some of the issues drawing attention in the Kansas Legislature would be better left alone. (Lawrence Journal-World [KS], 02/16/14)
"Legislators also are considering questionable preemptive legislation that would make it illegal for federal wildlife officials to enforce endangered species protections for the lesser prairie chicken in the state. The chicken hasn’t even been classified as endangered, but just in case....A Kansas House committee — based on objections that seem more political than scientific — also is taking time to work on a resolution that urges Congress to resist any plan President Obama poses for addressing man-made climate change. Did Congress ask for the state’s opinion?"

Editorial: The happy return of our eagles (Bennington Banner [VT], 02/13/14)
"The bald eagle is an Endangered Species Act success story. This law currently protects about 2,000 species of plants and animals. Less than one percent of listed species have gone on to extinction, according to the group Defenders of Wildlife.... According to the AP, "Republicans have seized on the fact that only 2 percent of protected species have been declared recovered -- despite billions of dollars in federal and state spending." Environmentalists take issue with this number and rightly claim that hundreds of protected species are now on a path to recovery because of protection from the law.... Particularly in the House, the current orthodoxy of the Republican majority is marked by denial of climate change, hatred of government, and contempt for regulation to protect the public interest against strong economic interests. Environmental protection is one particularly reviled bogeyman of this orthodoxy. As evidenced by the resurgence of the bald eagle, the Endangered Species Act has worked well. Fortunately, experts predict that given the current gridlock in Washington, major changes in the law are highly unlikely."

Editorial: Our View: Endangered wolves need a judge's intervention (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 02/12/14)
"Perhaps a federal judge will provide the stewardship North Carolina wildlife regulators have ignored. That would be the responsible course for one of the world's most endangered species. At least nine red wolves were shot and killed last year in the rural northeastern North Carolina counties that are their only home in the wild. It is possible hunters mistakenly thought they were coyotes - the two species have a remarkably similar appearance. That's why it's ludicrous that the state Wildlife Resources Commission last year approved coyote hunting in wolf-habitat counties. And that's why conservationists went to court this week to ask U.S. District Judge Terrance Boyle to stop the coyote hunt. ... We hope Judge Boyle will intervene and give the wolves the protection they need to survive and thrive in natural surroundings."

Editorial: Rep. Doc Hastings endangers the Endangered Species Act; The Endangered Species Act celebrated its 40th anniversary in December, but it is under threat from ill-conceived reforms proposed by U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings. (Seattle Times [WA] , 02/12/14)
"Hastings wants to shift the ethic and leverage of the federal government to state and local authorities to protect endangered species. The transparently bad idea would mean no protections whatsoever in many areas. Oregon’s U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio makes the point the best impediment to Hastings’ pinched vision is the U.S. Senate, which has no interest in tampering with something that works. ... In the queue for protection is the greater sage-grouse, which is found in 11 western states."

EDITORIAL: U.S. Senate is tackling drought relief (Fresno Bee [CA] , 02/11/14)
"There is much to like in the senators' ideas. As Feinstein pointed out Tuesday morning in a conference call with The Bee editorial board, the proposed drought relief wouldn't violate the Endangered Species and Clean Water acts."

EDITORIAL: Denying federal authority costly, inconsistent (Arizona Daily Sun, 02/09/14)
DAILY SUN EDITORIAL BOARD: "the situation has clearly gotten out of hand.... when some of the bills get signed by Brewer, taxpayers get stuck paying for legal defenses against claims of unconstitutionality — almost all of which the state has lost.... it’s difficult not to conclude that Republicans are simply playing obstructionist politics with federal laws and programs they don’t like, including voter registration, health insurance, immigration and wolf reintroduction.... Now, there’s a bill to let ranchers kill an endangered Mexican gray wolf suspected of harming cattle — no questions asked. That’s also outside the Legislature’s purview — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the wolf reintroduction program. (And don’t most Arizona ranchers have at least some of their grazing rights on federal lands?)"

Editorial: McConnell's fuming over fish a little off the hook (Lexington Herald-Leader [KY], 02/05/14)
"But, seriously, can't Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rail against what he calls "the radical environmentalists in the Obama administration" without insulting everyone's intelligence? On the Senate floor Tuesday, Kentucky's senior senator rose to berate federal agencies for following federal law after the discovery of the endangered duskytail darter in Lake Cumberland's headwaters....huffed McConnell. "First, the administration is protecting a fish from water. Let me repeat that: the radical environmentalists in the Obama administration don't want this fish to be exposed to too much water. What's next? Protecting birds from too much sky?" Surely, McConnell understands that different fish require different sorts of habitats — just as birds cannot survive on sky alone."

Guest opinion: Hickenlooper's grousing on behalf of oil and gas threatens the West (Daily Camera [CO] , 02/05/14)
Sarah Egolf: "Gov. Hickenlooper called on public land managers in northwest Colorado to turn their backs on a plan to protect the sage grouse and avert the need for Endangered Species listing. Instead, he called on the feds to adopt a "Colorado Package," which essentially sacrifices the grouse and its habitat to oil and gas. Ironically, while the industry may get the run of the roost under the plan, the "package" promises only to push the grouse closer to the brink of extinction and closer to listing as an endangered species — which certainly wouldn't help industry's long-term interests in the region."

Editorial: McCarthy should whip a new water deal into shape (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 02/04/14)
"Among other things, H.R. 3964 would: • Repeal the bipartisan settlement aimed at restoring flows in the San Joaquin River, which once supported spring-run salmon before it started drying up after the Friant Dam was built in the 1940s. This is unnecessary. • Override the bipartisan state law, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009, that requires that any actions in the Delta be aimed at achieving co-equal goals of restoring the Delta and improving water supply reliability."

Editorial: Playing chicken; Negotiating measures to protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken in Kansas makes more sense than setting up a legal battle with the federal government. (Lawrence Journal-World [KS], 02/04/14)
"The bill approved in committee declares that any law that protects either the Greater or Lesser Prairie Chicken would be null and void in Kansas. Never mind the problems with the state seeking to prosecute federal officers who are doing their job.... State officials should put more effort into saving this native species and less into setting up a legal fight with the federal government."

Editorial: Wolves are in the crosshairs, thanks to Sen. Gail Griffin; Our View: There's a better plan to coexist with ranchers (Arizona Republic, 02/04/14)
"Pause for a moment and savor this: The population of endangered Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico grew from 75 to 83 last year. That’s nearly double the 2009 count. It’s a victory for our shared national values, which are expressed in the Endangered Species Act. OK. Enough savoring. Now, back to a reality. Lobos remain perilously close to extinction’s cliff, and Arizona’s Legislature is poised to give them a shove over the edge. The Senate Government and Environment Committee approved three measures this week aimed at wolf reintroduction like a bullet to the brain."

Letter: The ESA Didn't Cause the Drought; Environmental protections didn't cause California's water problems, and rolling them back won't fix our water woes. There is simply no water. (Wall Street Journal, 02/03/14)
Mike Sweeney, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy, California Chapter: "Environmental protections didn't cause California's water problems, and rolling them back won't fix our water woes. Your Jan. 27 editorial "On the California Water Front" gets it wrong. This winter the Endangered Species Act hasn't restricted water deliveries from the delta. There is simply no water."

Editorial: Playing politics with California's drought; Competing interests are working together on water. A House GOP bill would undermine their efforts. (Los Angeles Times, 02/03/14)
"Funny, isn't it, that folks who question man's ability to affect the global climate are so quick to assign human causes to the drought? ... In their imagined "people versus fish" scenario, towns are going dry and growers are going out of business because crazy environmentalists are hogging water to protect an obscure fish, the delta smelt. Water that could irrigate fields and keep people working is instead being kept in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and flushed into the ocean. What they don't like to point out is that without that supposed flush pushing out into the Pacific, seawater would continue to intrude farther into the delta, leaving only useless salty brine to pump into canals and onto fields — and then where would the growers and the rest of us be? ... And as for the smelt, the Endangered Species Act protects not only that fish but all of us, by holding together the fragile environmental web we rely on."

GUEST COMMENTARY: Hickenlooper's plan protects oil industry, not sage grouse (Denver Post [CO] , 02/01/14)
Erik Molvar: "only scientifically sound habitat protections, applied with certainty, can prevent Endangered Species Act listing."

EDITORIAL Our View: Playing chicken (Joplin Globe [MO], 01/29/14)
"This notion of ignoring some federal laws, all the while benefiting from others, is nonsense. ... The historical range of the lesser prairie chicken has shrunk by 84 percent because of development and agricultural activities. Those in the state who oppose placing the bird under the protection cite loss of jobs and development. We understand that opposition but don’t agree with the method being used to fight the battle. Fear of regulation would appear to be winning over the loss of yet another species of the prairie chicken. There’s got to be a better way to approach the problem."

Editorial: Law favors fish over people? No, people need fish (Redding Record Searchlight [CA], 01/29/14)
"“How you can favor a fish over people is something the people in my part of the world would not understand.” So said no less an eminence than House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, last week while visiting California to promote a measure that would waive various federal protections of rare fish and halt an effort to restore salmon to the San Joaquin River.... But let’s be clear about one thing: We don’t favor fish over people, even if the law might look that way sometimes. We favor fish for people. Salmon make a tasty dinner and keep thousands of Northern Californians employed ... Nobody much loves the poor Delta smelt, a “3-inch baitfish” that has become a symbol of misguided priorities to San Joaquin Valley conservatives. But little fish feed big fish. Killing off the bottom of the food chain works about as well as pulling the foundation out from under a house."

Editorial: Water over dams saves salmon (Seattle Times [WA] , 01/28/14)
"U.S. District Court Judge James Redden, who had knocked down three earlier versions of the plan, rejected the 2011 plan because it put the economic interests of river operations above saving endangered fish. The plan was too narrowly centered on habitat mitigation, and lacked reliable, aggressive actions, the judge ruled. One of those points was additional flow over the dams in the spring and summer to help scoot salmon safely toward the ocean.... The plan is likely to be challenged in court, and it will fall to federal Judge Michael Simon to see if the plan is as vague and mushy as viewed by Redden, who subsequently retired. Two lessons seem to be operative here. One is the role of spill to improve salmon survival and returns; no salmon were trucked before the dams appeared."

PD Editorial: No drought in California's water wars (Press Democrat [CA] , 01/27/14)
"[T]he Senate already rejected the House bill once — and for good reason. A drought isn't justification to ignore the Endangered Species Act or undercut one important California industry — salmon fishing — in favor of another — agriculture. Both need assistance to thrive, and both are accomplished water warriors. Boehner surely scored some points with the most militant growers, but his bill isn't going anywhere."

Editorial: A brazen GOP water grab (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 01/27/14)
"For simple-minded thinking on California's worsening drought, it would be hard to top the ideas trotted out by Republican leaders. Their plan: Divert water to farms and forget the environment.... House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, flew in to talk up the issue, playing the role of the puzzled outsider perplexed by California's water policies. Why not steer the flows to farms, not fish, he suggested, playing on long-running controversies over diverting water to save and restore historic fish runs. At his side were valley Republicans looking for an issue to improve their chances of re-election and widen the appeal of a party as endangered here as the salmon they denigrate."

Editorial: California's drought, times three; The state is facing three distinct water crises, each requiring its own emergency and long-term responses. (Los Angeles Times, 01/26/14)
"We may have to build new dams to store water for future use without drying up rivers and destroying the ecosystem, as dams in California historically have done. ...That means diverting some of the delta's water with pumps that do less damage to endangered fish and rely less on earthquake-vulnerable levees. The kind of system envisioned by the Bay Delta Conservation Plan would help all parts of California deal with global climate change and its inevitable result: precipitation that falls on the Sierra less like the snow that generations have come to rely on and more like the rain that comes, when it does, to Southern California in unmanageable torrents."

Editorial: Don't use 'drought emergency' to divide us (Bakersfield Californian [CA], 01/25/14)
"Boehner should know a thing or two about the "nonsense" of a bureaucracy that protects fish and water quality; he should know that when it comes to water, simple answers are exceedingly hard to come by. The legislation Boehner and the three Valley Republicans are proposing -- this time as a short-term emergency response -- was rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate and strongly opposed by state and federal agencies in 2012. Likely the proposed "emergency" legislation will meet the same end this year.... Coastal salmon fishermen say it will destroy their industry. And Delta farmers and environmentalists contend it is a blatant, short-sighted water grab fueled by political contributions from big growers....And increasing Delta exports in a dry year could end up hurting both the Delta and water users to the south. It could suck salty sea water into the Delta and into aqueducts that transport water to Valley and Southland farms and cities."

Boehner vs. fish and Delta farms (Sonoma Index-Tribune [CA] , 01/23/14)
By David Bolling/ Index-Tribune Editor: "Boehner, who is from Ohio and thus revealed his ignorance of both hydrological reality and environmental sustainability while milking the state’s potentially catastrophic drought for profoundly political purposes. Boehner was on hand to lend support to three Central Valley Congressmen who want to adopt federal legislation suspending the endangered species act, reversing restoration of the San Joaquin River and draining the Delta to water farms in Bakersfield, Tulare and Hanford, among other places, during the drought. Reducing the drought to a fallacious equation pitting endangered fish against people mocks science and blocks a rational conversation over wise, realistic and equitable solutions to California’s chronic water crisis. The bill Boehner says he’ll support would protect the interests of some farmers at the expense of others, while placing the future of salmon restoration in even greater peril."

Editorial: A Speaker Boehner runs through it (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 01/23/14)
"Along with GOP Reps. Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao, Boehner said he wants to delay implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Project until 2015, which would leave salmon high and dry. Anything Boehner can do to assist with Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought response would be welcome. Gutting the intent of the Endangered Species Act isn’t."

EDITORIAL: Trade and the Environment (New York Times, 01/18/14)
"One of the most laudable American goals in negotiating the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other countries was to strengthen environmental protections around the world....American trade agreements have asked trading partners not to weaken their environmental laws and required them to carry out commitments they had already made under treaties like the Montreal Protocol, which aims to protect the ozone layer, and a convention on the trade of endangered species and wild plants and animals....The Office of the United States Trade Representative said ... “we will insist on a robust, fully enforceable environment chapter in the T.P.P. or we will not come to agreement.” It is important that American negotiators stick to that policy. And members of Congress, who have to ratify all trade deals, should insist on it."