Editorials and Opinion
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.""
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: 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 ... This would benefit the Florida panther as well many other threatened Sunshine State species."
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."
EDITORIAL: Texas sea turtles’ future in jeopardy (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 11/23/14)
"The bad news comes as federal research dollars have been slashed, funding from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment for turtle patrols along the Texas coast is coming to an end, and turtle patrols have been cut. The Natural Marine Fisheries Service has abandoned plans to require excluder devices on shrimp boats to safeguard against turtles drowning in nets.
It would be terrible to lose these turtles after the investment of so much time, effort and funding to grow their numbers.
We urge the federal government to restore funding taken from the Mexico/U.S. Binational Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Population Restoration Program."
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: 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."
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: Follow science, not politics (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 10/15/14)
"If the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission follows Secretary Robin Jennison’s recommendation and takes the redbelly snake off the state’s threatened list, it will be avoiding a political fight by discounting science. It also will set a bad precedent for the next time somebody wants to ignore the scientific experts for reasons of cost or convenience. And the next."
EDITORIAL: Our View: Defend federal land ownership at Friday hearing (Idaho Mountain Express, 10/08/14)
"The state takeover is popular with state lawmakers and has persisted since the days of the Sagebrush Rebellion in the 1980s when Westerners with permits to operate on federal lands expressed displeasure ... largely that they couldn’t do as they pleased on land they did not own and that they should be afforded rights greater than those of the landlord—the American public that owns the land. Idaho counties piled on, blaming federal ownership instead of unwise state tax policies that refuse communities local control of taxation for the cost of services to visitors on public lands. They also perversely blamed laws like the Endangered Species Act, which tries to protect the nation’s vanishing wildlife, for damaging the economies of communities located near public lands."
EDITORIAL: Revisiting The Passenger Pigeon (Hartford Courant [CT], 10/07/14)
"The passenger pigeon was once the most plentiful bird in North America. Its enormous flocks darkened the sky. But it was hunted to extinction by people who thought the supply was endless. The death of Martha was an awakening, the first time many people realized that human activity could wipe out an entire species. There is a modern parallel. Last month the National Audubon Society released a report saying that nearly 30 species of birds risk extinction by 2080, and hundreds of other species are at risk of serious range contractions because of global warming. As we should have learned by now, the health of the bird population is a good indicator of the health of the overall environment."
The animals are disappearing: Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 10/06/14)
"According to an alarming study from the World Wildlife Fund and the London Zoological Society, the populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have fallen by 52 percent in the last 40 years.... Animal are disappearing because we not only kill them in unsustainable numbers, we also destroying their habitats. ... the brown bats are vanishing because of a fungus, which eliminates an invaluable mosquito-removal service. Environmental factors such as rising sea levels and vernal pools made less habitable by road salt are decimating reptile and amphibian populations.
The only good trend of late is President Obama’s decision to create the world’s largest marine preserve,...To stop there would be hubris redefined."
Living With Wolves (LIfe of the Law, 10/04/14)
Jason Albert: "The gray wolf only roams a fraction of its historic range. While it used to inhabit huge parts of the U.S., it’s now confined to just a few states. But last winter, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed taking it off the endangered species list throughout the entire lower 48 states, because in that small area, wolves are thriving. It’s the first step in what could be a radical reinterpretation of the Endangered Species Act, with ramifications far beyond wolf country....focusing on species current, rather than historic, range, means we might be preserving an approximation of nature as it was. ... There are also practical reasons to preserve species in more than a small area."
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: CO2 figures provide more cause for concern (Virginian-Pilot, 10/02/14)
"[S]cientists agree that carbon dioxide levels haven't been this high in eons. ...All that is slowly combining to cause the planet to warm, altering ranges for animal and plant species, changing climate, raising sea levels and increasing the potential for more severe weather. More CO2 has also been absorbed into the world's oceans, where it is acidifying the water and wreaking havoc with plant and animal life....he arc of the change provides cause for alarm. Carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing more quickly now"
EDITORIAL: Decline in butterfly species should concern us all (Capital Journal [Pierre, SD], 09/24/14)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the Dakota skipper as a threatened species. ... The Poweshiek skipperling is proposed as endangered.... This should concern us all. It appears that we may pass on to our children a prairie that is poorer in wildlife than the prairie we inherited from our parents and grandparents. ... Here is where we could probably learn a lesson from the first radical environmentalist, God, and his right-hand man, Noah. If biological diversity was worth protecting in the Genesis account of the great flood, it’s worth protecting now, too. Read the story on A3 and consider filing some comments with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about their proposed plans for these two small citizens of our prairie world."
More talk, more action [Editorial]; Our view: Climate change protesters and policymakers must overcome the 'know-nothing, do-nothing' politics of skeptics (Baltimore Sun, 09/22/14)
"For the record, man-made climate change is undeniable and serious. ... The challenge of climate change is serious, but the remedies are not as painful as opponents often claim. Conserving energy and switching to renewable forms of power yields tremendous benefits not only to the environment but to human health and to energy independence. What's painful is to envision a future if action isn't taken — coastal communities flooded; increasingly severe weather events such as drought and storms; loss of arable farmland and freshwater supplies; increased disease; more political conflicts worldwide as people battle over scarcer resources; and loss of biodiversity and ecosystems."
EDITORIAL: Our View: Cheers and Jeers (Times-News [ID] , 09/20/14)
"Cheers to the Ketchum City Council, which this week proved that people can be reasonable about wolves in Idaho. The City Council called for the state to end the war on wolves and transition to non-lethal management. Officials in the tourism-heavy city rightly note the terrible press Idaho receives because of the unusual levels of bloodlust some Idahoans have toward wolves. Living with nature means appreciating all species, not just those we like to eat, catch or domesticate.... Cheers to sockeye salmon who are returning in droves to Redfish Lake.... The rebound follows intense state and federal efforts to stabilize the species"
Editorial: Two More Historical Events (Parker Pioneer [AZ], 09/19/14)
"The extinction of the passenger pigeon offers lessons for humans. What we do affects everything and everyone around us. We need to take care of and manage our resources. As the passenger pigeon shows, even a seemingly endless resource can disappear if it’s not managed wisely."