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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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EDITORIAL: Give horseshoe crabs a break -- before they're gone (Newsday [NY], 07/24/15)
"The board has asked the state to ban harvesting the crabs at town beaches and in Setauket Harbor, to address concerns about overfishing. Given insufficient information about their habitat and whether the population is declining or stable, it's a reasonable request. In environmental matters, erring on the side of caution is almost always a good idea. Beyond the wisdom of preserving species whenever we can, horseshoe crabs are important symbolically and in reality."

EDITORIAL: Wash. voters should support I-1401, taking lead to stop poaching (Seattle Times [WA] , 06/21/15)
"Washington voters should support an initiative to increase penalties for trade of endangered exotic animals.... The northern white rhino’s plight illustrates the devastation caused by exotic-animal trading and why Washington voters should support Initiative 1401. ... These animals need protection, and Washington’s proposed law could encourage other states to take action."

Editorial: Lack of a wolf plan should have U.S. howling mad (Albuquerque Journal [NM], 06/16/15)
"The public ... deserves to know what that final goal is. According to a 2014 lawsuit against Fish and Wildlife by Defenders of Wildlife [and others] “the absence of a legitimate agency blueprint for Mexican gray wolf recovery underlies the ongoing challenges facing the subspecies’ recovery program. Accordingly, those challenges could be resolved through the production and implementation of a scientifically based and legally valid recovery plan to guide and drive Mexican gray wolf management decisions, such as scheduled releases to promote genetic diversity, necessary limitations on wolf removals by FWS and the public, and delineation of appropriate geographic areas to facilitate wolf recovery.”"

Editorial: Where have all the honeybees gone? (Record Journal [CT], 06/15/15)
"Bees pollinate some 80 percent of plant species, and about a third of our food supply depends on them. Some crops, such as almonds, are completely dependent on bees for pollination. But the honeybees have been disappearing ... current theory is that there may be multiple factors involved, including disease, bacteria, parasites — and pesticides, including synthetic nicotine pesticides called neo-nicotinoids.... it should be a major concern for all of us, because all of us depend on honeybees for our sustenance."

Editorial: Do not take Florida panther off endangered list (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 06/12/15)
"Count this among the most shortsighted ideas to emerge from state wildlife protection bureaucrats in recent memory: They want the Florida panther to be removed from the federal endangered species list. Apparently, 150 to 250 Florida panthers are just too many. This is the wrong move for Florida and for the panthers, and it could reverse decades of work aimed at protecting the animals.... reducing federal regulation is not the answer."

EDITORIAL: Prairie dog vaccine program just might help (Great Falls Tribune [MT], 06/09/15)
"We believe this is a useful project that we hope will help rescue a rare species from the brink of extinction. But this also reveals a larger picture — that driving other species to extinction, whether it be bison, prairie dogs, wolves or other animals, is not in the best interests of most Americans or other world occupants. Even sometimes despised creatures can play a useful role in the ecological landscape. Bats are voracious eaters of insects, even if literature has painted them as scary creatures; bison contributed to the prairie ecosystem, and reintroduction in some locations could help restore part of the Great Plains prairie that is rich in both animal and plant life. We applaud efforts to safeguard the existence of other species on the earth, … We support these steps, and we are confident these efforts, if they succeed, will benefit human beings as well as the animals and plants we help to survive."

EDITORIAL: G.O.P. Assault on Environmental Laws (New York Times, 06/08/15)
"President Obama has announced or will soon propose important protections for clean water, clean air, threatened species and threatened landscapes. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and other Republicans in Congress are trying hard not to let that happen ... the sage grouse initiative is a legitimate executive action aimed at carrying out Congress’s purpose in the 1973 Endangered Species Act, which was to save a species before it disappears."

Editorial Assembly bill on ivory sales is worth approving (Los Angeles Times, 06/07/15)
"[L]egal ivory trade can serve as a cover for illegal trade. AB 96, introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would tighten the rules by barring the sale of almost all ivory in California. (The bill would also ban the importation and sale of endangered rhinoceros horn.) It passed the Assembly last week with bipartisan support. The Senate should pass it too, and the governor should sign it into law.... It's not likely that the courts will see this law as a violation of the Takings Clause under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution. When California outlawed shark fins, a group sued, arguing that the government had taken away the value of traders' shark fins. The courts ruled otherwise, stating that the government was not in violation of the Constitution when it imposed a complete ban on a product determined to be harmful to the species."

Editorial: Cheers and Jeers (Gainesville Sun [FL], 06/06/15)
"Jeer: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials, for suggesting that the endangered status of the Florida panther may need to be reviewed. Wildlife advocates told a GateHouse Media reporter that the agency is rejecting scientific evidence in claiming that having a panther population near 200 shows the animal is no longer endangered."

Editorial: Population peril (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 06/02/15)
"Population problems of many sorts are outlined in the latest Free Inquiry magazine. Some examples: ... “The rate of plant and animal extinction is about 1,000 times higher than the natural rate . ... Other species ... are going extinct at the highest rate since the extinction that wiped out most dinosaurs 65 million years ago.” • “For most of Earth’s recent history, our atmosphere has contained about 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Today, we are at 400 ppm and climbing, a level that essentially locks in significant climate change ... . The increase of CO2 in the oceans is... the highest it has been in about 20 million years.” • “About 90 percent of the ocean’s population of large fish has been wiped out by overfishing and other human activity.”"

Editorial: Protecting the pollinators (Providence Journal [RI] , 05/28/15)
"Europe has banned three types of the pesticides known as neonicotinoids, widely used on U.S. crops but feared by some researchers to endanger bees. With U.S. environmental groups pushing for their elimination here, the accelerated review of their impact is welcome.... the loss of honeybees and other pollinators may be signaling broad problems with U.S. ecosystems. The more researchers discover now, the better the chance of averting a crisis."

Editorial: Obama’s bee report has a hole in it (Fresno Bee [CA] , 05/27/15)
"Billions of dollars and a third of the nation’s food supply are at stake. So it’s only right that the Obama administration is taking up the plight of the honeybee, a linchpin of our food system. The only thing wrong is that the plan doesn’t go far enough.... the task force stops short of direct recommendations about curbing the use of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides that’s applied to crops.... At a minimum, we need to speed studies about the pesticides, and either clear them of the collapse, or make hard decisions about their continued use."

PD Editorial: Plan Bee to save the pollinators (Press Democrat [CA] , 05/26/15)
"Farmers and scientists have watched with alarm as honeybee colonies died off in recent years. Bees are pollinators, bringing color to backyard gardens and tending crops that feed the nation — almonds, avocados, apples, peaches, plums, pears, blueberries, strawberries, the list goes on....President Barack Obama offered a plan to expand breeding and feeding grounds for bees and other pollinators, including monarch butterflies, another species suffering sharp declines. Obama also directed the Environmental Protection Agency to re-evaluate the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honeybees. The agency has restricted their use around bee colonies, but, unlike the European Union, it hasn’t enacted a moratorium. ... It’s a cautious, science-based approach that deserves funding to expedite research and public cooperation in maintaining gardens and other spaces where bees and butterflies can thrive. Otherwise, some of our favorite foods may start disappearing from supermarket shelves and kitchen tables."

EDITORIAL: Our Views: Louisiana black bear makes remarkable turn exiting endangered species list (New Orleans Advocate, 05/25/15)
"One of our trademarks, the bear that inspired Teddy bears, is no longer an endangered species, according to federal authorities, although some longtime advocates for conservation dispute the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service....As few as 100 bears are thought to have been living in the 1950s. We don’t want to go back to that level, but we are reasonably confident that the plans by federal and state authorities will not allow that to happen. This has been in discussion for a long time. Still, it’s good that the Black Bear Conservation Coalition and other environmental groups will keep a close eye on this new development.... Nor could it have happened without private citizens like Harold Schoeffler, whose legal action prompted the settlement that listed the bear as a threatened species in 1991. He’s not entirely happy with regulators now and will doubtless be heard on this new step."

EDITORIAL: The endangered pollinators (Baltimore Sun, 05/22/15)
"It's estimated that every third bite of food a person consumes can be traced to a honey bee, wild bee or other insect pollinator. ... That's why the science-based strategies endorsed recently by President Barack Obama are a good step in the right direction toward restoring the environmental balance. The loss of pollinators requires a focused government response that will not only pinpoint the causes behind the collapse but set the nation on remedial action now while a recovery is still possible. Corrective action involves not just limiting pesticide applications on fields traveled by bees but also planting pollinator-friendly crops and preserving natural habitat."

EDITORIAL: The government’s Plan Bee (Washington Post, 05/21/15)
"A CRUCIAL agricultural workforce in the United States that produces some $15 billion worth of economic value every year, according to the Obama administration, has been struck by alarming losses recently, frightening advocates and demanding attention from Washington. Yes, the country’s bees are in trouble."

EDITORIAL: Our View: Let Ladder Ranch keep helping wolves (Santa Fe New Mexican, 05/18/15)
"For 17 years, Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in Sierra County has been a place where endangered Mexican gray wolves could find temporary refuge. Now, with a decision by the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission, that refuge is gone. On May 7, commissioners decided to deny a permit that would have continued to allow the ranch to provide pen space to wolves that either were being released into, or temporarily released from, the wild. The governor should reverse the commission’s denial. The re-introduction of the wolf to the wild needs as much support as possible ... Requiring the permits smacks of unnecessary government intrusion on the actions of a private landowner.... helping save the wolf is a much stronger position than helping allow a creature that so many love die out. By green-lighting the permit, Martinez has a chance to become a hero."

EDITORIAL: Bully for the black bear (News-Star [LA], 05/13/15)
"During the 1950s and ‘60s Louisiana black bears were on the brink of disappearing, with fewer than 100 remaining in a shrinking habitat. Officials enrolled Louisiana black bears in the Endangered Species Act program in 1992.... official announcement May 20 in Baton Rouge that the Louisiana black bear will be taken off the endangered list.... Barham can enjoy his sunset days as secretary knowing that he succeeded in his goal to assure Louisiana will continue to be home to the teddy bear. The recovery of the Louisiana black bear is an environmental achievement“ worthy of a hearty, “Bully.”"

Editorial: Game board unfairly takes aim at gray wolf protector  (Albuquerque Journal [NM], 05/12/15)
"Playing tit for tat with an endangered species is not only unproductive; it’s petty. Yet that appears to be what the New Mexico Game Commission did last week when it declined to renew a permit that had been in place for 17 years allowing Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in the Gila mountains to assist the federal Mexican gray wolf recovery program. Ever since the program began in 1998, the Turner ranch has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide pen space for holding endangered wolves being taken from the wild or being reintroduced into the wilderness.... Landowner rights should not become as endangered as the wolf. Turner should be allowed to use his property as he wishes in cooperation with the federal government, and the commission shouldn’t flex its self-granted power to punish a private landowner to make a statement."

EDITORIAL: Preserving Virginia's 'Treasures' (News & Advance [Lynchburg, VA], 04/30/15)
"There’s much to love about the Old Dominion: its history, its heritage, its natural beauty. But with growth and progress, those natural treasures of the commonwealth come under increased pressure from development. That’s why an initiative Gov. Terry McAuliffe launched last week is so important. “Virginia Treasures” is designed to protect, in perpetuity, ecologically sensitive sites, lands that harbor endangered or threatened species .... The more of these “treasures” we can preserve and protect today, the more of the true Virginia we bequeath future generations."

Editorial: Protect rhinos and elephants (Bend Bulletin [OR], 04/29/15)
"Legislators in Oregon would like to ban sales of rhino horn and ivory in Oregon — similar to what has been done in New York and New Jersey. ... it could help, and the illegal ivory trade has no place in Oregon. Pass the bill."

Editorial: Spring marks the return of the osprey (Eagle-Tribune [MA], 04/21/15)
"One considered endangered, the osprey has made a solid, steady comeback locally. ...It wasn't until the United States outlawed DDT and similar pesticides that the bird began its comeback. Today, the osprey is both a conservation success story and a barometer of the health of the local ecosystem -- an actual canary in the coal mine. They sit at the top of the coastal food chain, so any poisons ingested by fish and other smaller animals eventually end up being part of the osprey diet. A healthy osprey population, therefore, is an indication of a generally healthy coastal ecosystem, which is a boon to humans as well."

EDITORIAL: Restoring delta must be part of tunnels plan (Fresno Bee [CA] , 04/20/15)
"U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the plan would harm water quality and aquatic life, and increase pollution.... a focused, coordinated approach to restore habitat to help endangered and threatened species recover should be part of the governor’s new plan."

EDITORIAL: Brown shouldn’t leave eco goals out of new Delta plan; Set metrics on restoration and start it now (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/19/15)
"The Bay Delta Conservation Plan was proposed with two equal goals: to reliably supply Southern Californians and Central Valley farmers with water, and to restore the Delta ecosystem to save endangered species, such as salmon and Delta smelt. ... a focused, coordinated approach to restore habitat to help endangered and threatened species recover should be part of the governor’s new plan.... the governor should specifically define the ecological goals, set measurable objectives for recovery of species, produce a coordinated action plan and strictly monitor its progress."

EDITORIAL: No Exemption For Ivory In Culpable Connecticut (Hartford Courant [CT], 04/19/15)
"Connecticut can make a down payment on the moral debt it owes the elephant by enacting an airtight ban on the sale of ivory."

NWA Editorial: Cavefish help region develop the right way (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 04/17/15)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the fish a threatened species.... cavefish are living barometers of the condition of the Northwest Arkansas water supply and how well we're taking care of it. In short, if the cave fish disappear, it means the region's water quality is on the decline. With all the development and population growth in Northwest Arkansas, the region's leaders must be continually concerned with protecting water supplies.... A recently released study suggests the Ozark cavefish and residential develop can co-exist .... the presence of the cavefish demonstrates the groundwater in the area is fairly high quality.... those pushing development cannot themselves be as blind as the cavefish when it comes to valuing protecting of the environment. This critical discussion must happen before irreparable harm is done.... Approaching it any other way would suggest the Ozark cavefish isn't the only creature that's blind."

Editorial: The Vanishing Pangolin (New York Times, 04/09/15)
"[H]uge numbers of wild creatures that most of the world has never even heard of are threatened with extinction by illegal trade .... Today it is a battle against a rapidly expanding demand for wild animals — dead and alive — that is spawning a global criminal network and threatening innumerable species with annihilation."

Editorial: Ban ivory, rhino horn sales; Oregon can put pressure on poachers (Register Guard [OR], 04/07/15)
"Oregon can do its small but important part to shut down this trade by banning the sale of ivory and rhino horn."

Editorial: The alarming decline of plant life (MetroWest Daily News [MA], 04/07/15)
"This past week, the New England Wildflower Society released a report stating that 22 percent of the plants it examined are either rare, in decline, endangered, or perhaps already extinct.... the consequences of a continued drop off in plant life could have profound implications for us."

RJ Editorial: Of bats and fungus (Record Journal [CT], 03/30/15)
"[B]ats play an important role in the ecological system, by pollinating flowers and spreading fruit seeds. Bat waste is so nutrient-rich, farmers use it to fertilize crops. Then bats protect those crops by gobbling up damage-causing insects. ... The fungal disease taking its toll on bats — known as white-nose syndrome — has prompted the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to recommend placing the “endangered” tag on five of Connecticut’s eight native bat species. This should be done."