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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Editorials and Opinion

 

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EDITORIAL: Taking flight; Monarch butterfly faces many challenges; one of them shouldn't be humans. (Houston Chronicle, 02/20/15)
"To save the monarch, the Fish and Wildlife Service needs to act to classify the monarch as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Only then will the agency be able to develop the comprehensive plan needed to restore long-term, healthy populations of monarchs. Butterflies are a critical pollinator of plants. Most plants need a pollinator to reproduce. If the monarch goes extinct, not only will we lose one of nature's most magical creatures, we will experience a drop in plant diversity."

EDITORIAL: We know the drill (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 02/20/15)
"As a federal judge determines how many billions BP should pay for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama administration is pushing a troubling plan to allow drilling in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast from Virginia to Georgia.... Although the carcasses of almost 1,000 dolphins and 500 sea turtles were recovered, scientists say there is no accounting for the number that weren't."

EDITORIAL: Wildlife Slaughter Goes Unabated (New York Times, 02/15/15)
"The White House alert is noteworthy, but unfortunately the administration is allotting only a modest increase for funding and staffing ... This means there is scant likelihood of a letup in the smuggling frenzy ... These killings are not mere crimes of a lower order. The disappearance of priceless wildlife, sacrificed to the black market, is a blot on humanity and its management of life on earth."

EDITORIAL: Wild things; A special coral reef system in Gulf of Mexico needs to be expanded and protected. (Houston Chronicle, 02/13/15)
"In addition to the usual coral reef fish such as angel fish, eels, urchin, parrotfish and grouper, larger marine animals, such as sea turtles and white sharks, frequent this area. Scientists have identified almost 100 manta rays living in protected waters."

EDITORIAL: Eagle pride: Attack brings reminder of need to stay vigilant. (Garden City Telegram [KS], 02/13/15)
"In 1972, the bald eagle finally was placed under protection of the Endangered Species Act. A ban on DDT and other changes helped the bird recover. Nesting pairs rose to nearly 9,800 by 2007. The bald eagle became an endangered species success story, and was taken off the list. The danger hasn’t vanished, however, and monitoring continues. Contaminants and habitat loss still pose a threat.... It’s an important part of our heritage. Much work remains to ensure the bald eagle’s continued ascent, to include preservation of natural habitat, and stepped-up support for conservation and research."

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: Out of the woods: Gov. Wolf revives sensible protection on drilling  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 02/02/15)
"Former Gov. Ed Rendell in 2010 banned drilling on 800,000 acres of the most environmentally sensitive areas, those that provide habitats for rare and endangered species, host fragile ecosystems or contain old-growth forests. ... Four years later, former Gov. Tom Corbett revoked the ban, saying the land could be drilled as long as there was no long-term disturbance on the surface. Naturally, that set off a debate over what constituted a long term, and a court fight meant the $75 million worth of new leases that Mr. Corbett had hoped to tap never came to be. With Mr. Wolf’s order, a reasonable boundary has been re-established between what is and what is not suitable land for drilling."

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."

EDITORIAL: Tallahassee's views on conservation at odds: Battle over Amendment 1 money brewing (Herald [Bradenton, FL] , 01/30/15)
Gov. "Scott pledged to fully comply with the amendment, even including additional funding for such environmental initiatives as conserving land for the Florida panther and springs.... Legal action might be necessary should the Legislature attempt to divert this dedicated environmental money elsewhere -- particularly to programs that the state already funds, thus freeing up dollars for other projects."

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: Open for business? (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 01/16/15)
"A plan to sell newly preserved land for development threatens to weaken public trust in New Jersey's open-space program.... The DEP was right the first time, when it moved to preserve the land. It abuts a wildlife preserve in one of the most pristine forest tracts in the state, a prime habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the northern pine snake. And as an upland area, it could also help replenish the aquifer below and affect the watershed of the protected Maurice River."

EDITORIAL: The Record: Eagles are staying (, 01/13/15)
"The eagles were nearly wiped out after World War II by the pesticide DDT, and, in 1982, state officials said there was only one bald eagle in New Jersey. With the use of DDT banned in the 1970s, wildlife scientists began a concerted effort to restore the state's bald eagle population. There are now more than 100 pairs of bald eagles in New Jersey ... What a treat it is to have bald eagles living in congested and noisy northern New Jersey. The presence of Al and Alice enhances the whole area"

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."

Wolves part of Washington’s future, heritage (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 01/10/15)
Shawn Cantrell, Defenders of Wildlife: "Today, thanks to the Endangered Species Act, we have a fledgling population of an estimated 52 wolves ... over 70 percent of Washington residents support wolf recovery in the state, .... Wolves are an essential part of our landscapes – our treasured natural heritage. Wolves contribute to the overall health of the areas they inhabit, and the majority of residents cite this as the primary reason for their continued support of wolf recovery."

EDITORIAL: Lawsuit Is Next Step In Saving Plum Island (Hartford Courant [CT], 01/09/15)
"With Congress doing nothing to save the ecologically important Plum Island, two environmental groups are right to take the next step: suing the federal government to stop the sale of the property.... Save the Sound and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment note that Plum Island is home to a unique mix of habitats and wildlife — plants, birds, marine mammals — some of which are threatened or endangered.... Legislative action is often preferable to legal action. But it's appropriate to apply all reasonable pressure to preserve this environmental jewel for the sake of the wildlife there."

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: 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: A small reminder about working toward orca recovery: The newborn Puget Sound southern resident orca born emphasizes the need for humans to do more to help killer whale recovery. (Seattle Times [WA] , 01/02/15)
"Although much remains to be learned about these distinctive marine mammals, the government’s decision to place them on the U.S. Endangered Species list 10 years ago was an important first step toward orca recovery. Requiring marine vessels to keep greater distances from the whales would be a strong second....chinook are also listed as an endangered species.... Their human neighbors must do more to help them."

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: Florida panthers are dying out; For Florida’s state animal — the panther — 2014 was a bad year (Florida Times-Union, 12/31/14)
"This tawny feline is the most endangered of all of the state’s symbols and must be protected. ... The program that funds both overpasses and underpasses for wildlife on major highways should be expanded.... You also can help the effort to save Florida’s remaining panthers by donating to organizations such as Defenders of Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy, two nonprofit organizations with special panther protection programs. We must all work to reduce panther deaths or risk losing an animal that has become synonymous with Florida."

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."

Our View: Woodpecker recovery project keeps on succeeding (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 12/15/14)
"It's not easy to spot red-cockaded woodpeckers. ... But they're out there, and that's reassuring - especially to the Department of Defense, which once faced serious training restrictions on Fort Bragg because of the federally endangered birds. But no more. Efforts to restore the woodpeckers' longleaf pine habitat around the post have been a stunning success."

EDITORIAL: Saving red knots  (Record [NJ] , 12/14/14)
"What it boils down to is that in order for the red knot to survive much longer, it is going to need a little help from humans. ... Last week brought another important development, when the red knot was declared "threatened" by the federal government under the Endangered Species Act. The bird had already been declared endangered by New Jersey, but the federal listing could mean more financial resources brought to projects that restore red knot habitat.... The bird and its miraculous flight have inspired long hours of preservation work not just from scientists and environmentalists, but from countless volunteers who recognize the rarity and determination of the species. Let's hope the new federal designation helps spur a greater push toward recovery"

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, 12/13: The otter's happy success (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 12/12/14)
"That’s a spectacular development, considering that otters had been extinct in the state for decades.... In fact, otters are doing so well in Nebraska that they could become the first mammal removed from Nebraska’s list of threatened and endangered species. That would be a remarkable achievement the whole state “otter” celebrate."

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.""