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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Journal Times editorial: To protect our food supply, Congress must protect the bees (Journal Times [Racine, WI], 10/13/14)
"Native pollinators, such as bumblebees, have also suffered population declines, and petitions are pending to give two species Endangered Species Act protection, ... One thing that stands to increase that danger is neonic pesticides."

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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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."

EDITORIAL Our view: Last flight of the monarch? (Roanoke Times [VA], 09/17/14)
"In the past 20 years, their numbers are down about 90 percent, with no end in sight, except maybe the same fate that befell the passenger pigeon. Extinction. The Monarch butterfly is a creature of sublime mystery that scientists have yet to figure out. ... The U.S. Interior Department is looking at whether to grant the butterfly “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act, which could lead to regulations that agribusiness might not like."

EDITORIAL: Defeating the need for speed (Santa Maria Times [CA], 09/17/14)
"Two important things are accomplished by getting cargo ships and tankers to slow down. One, they spew less greenhouse gasses into the air. As it turns out, cargo ships make a hefty contribution to air pollution along the Central Coast. Two, slowing down allows some of the channel’s larger inhabitants to get out of harm’s way. Research data show that whales have a much greater chance of surviving an encounter with a large ship, if that ship is traveling at a slower speed.... Some folks scoff at the protections afforded the western snowy plover at local beaches, saying it infringes on their right to use a public beach. On the other hand, we must all realize that once a species is wiped out, it’s gone forever, and whatever purpose it served in the network of life is lost forever."

EDITORIAL: Our View: Hear the cry of the loon before it's gone; Why it matters: Numerous bird species are threatened by global warming (Mankato Free Press [MN] , 09/15/14)
"The change of birds’ habitat means a change in our own habitat, including the foods we can grow, water availability, energy needs, pollution control. Climate change is not a new topic, but it’s one what we have to keep in the spotlight. Waiting until the damage is done and then trying to fix it doesn’t work. Once the most sensitive birds are gone, they’re gone for good. Action needs to be sooner than later."

Editorial: Restoration pays off in record salmon returns (Daily Astorian [OR], 09/15/14)
"[I]t must be noted that little of this would have been achieved without the strong pressure provided by the Endangered Species Act and the determined legal wits of federal Judge James Redden. And though the term “environmental group” is seldom one that engenders warm feelings in the rural Pacific Northwest, the advocacy and legal muscle provided by groups such as Earthjustice have been key in maintaining agency focus on salmon survival."

Lessons from the loss of passenger pigeon: Our View; The bird was once the most populous in the world, now lost to us. (Wausau Daily Herald [WI] , 09/12/14)
"In Wausau, this year's Birds in Art exhibit at the Woodson Art Museum includes "Legacy Lost & Saved: Extinct and Endangered Birds of North America," which ties the passenger pigeon's story to those of other birds that have been lost or nearly lost. ...In Wausau, this year's Birds in Art exhibit at the Woodson Art Museum includes "Legacy Lost & Saved: Extinct and Endangered Birds of North America," which ties the passenger pigeon's story to those of other birds that have been lost or nearly lost. ... We hope and believe that today, we have a different relationship to wildlife, and are more inclined and better equipped to protect species from such a dramatic fall."

EDITORIAL: Our Opinion: Our self-healing planet (Brattleboro Reformer [VT], 09/12/14)
"Consider, for a moment, endangered species: After getting required support from humans, some animals that are considered endangered, and in some cases on the brink of extinction, are seemingly recovering from those threats they were facing.... thanks to the Endangered Species Act, the gray wolf population, which was nearly wiped out in the 1930s, is up to 5,000 in the lower 48 states. In fact, the ESA has helped numerous species on the verge of extinction to recover, including the Aleutian Canada goose, the California least tern, the black-footed ferret, the American crocodile, the whooping crane and the shortnose sturgeon, to name a few.... Greenhouse gas is the main culprit behind climate change. ... As the recent report on the ozone shows us, however, there is still hope that we can turn things around."

EDITORIAL: Just do your job, feds, for the wolves; Our View: If the feds had done their job, they wouldn't be facing another lawsuit over the Mexican grey wolf. (Arizona Republic, 09/11/14)
"If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had done its job, it wouldn't be facing another lawsuit over the Mexican gray wolf recovery effort.... So, you can't expect advocates for the wolf-reintroduction effort to ignore the foot dragging. A coalition of environmental groups has announced its intention to sue the feds. Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center are joined by wildlife biologist Dave Parsons ...Instead of defending itself in court, Fish and Wildlife should be busy restoring a healthy, sustainable population of Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest."

EDITORIAL: African elephant slaughter renews faith in ESA (The Olympian [WA], 09/09/14)
"This year is the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction. And we’ve recently learned the slaughter of elephants in Africa could render Earth’s largest land mammals extinct within the decade. These two sad facts remind us of the value of environmental conservation and, in particular, America’s oft-maligned Endangered Species Act. Since a broad bipartisan majority in Congress passed the ESA in 1973, the law has saved salmon, bald eagles, gray wolves, grizzly bears and numerous other animals that would have otherwise disappeared from this planet forever. The act has also preserved countless other animals and plants whose existence depends on those species. ... we face uncertain effects in Thurston County caused by the listing of the Mazama pocket gopher and a few smaller species. But the alternative is worse."

Editorial: Bataclysm Now (Chicago Tribune, 09/08/14)
"[B]ats are vital to the ecology of Earth, which is where humans also live. Bats consume tons of insects, including crop pests and mosquitoes ... Our native bats are in mortal danger from a disease called "white-nose syndrome."... Amazing creatures. Not to be feared, but to be appreciated … and rescued."

EDITORIAL Our View: Manatees an endangered species (News Herald [Panama, FL], 09/08/14)
"Although manatees have benefited from protections associated with its status under the Endangered Species Act, the potential danger of extinction should weigh heavily on the Fish and Wildlife Service."

EDITORIAL: Florida's manatees deserve continued protection (Herald [Bradenton, FL] , 09/06/14)
"Speaking of nature, the manatee is one of the wonders of our waters. ... But there's a fight about the manatee's federal endangered species designation, one that a group of boaters, businesses and other interests want to downgrade to merely threatened. That reduced protection would put manatees in line for hits by boats no longer bound by speeding limits in designated areas. ... The birth rate apparently keeps the manatee population stable, but the nation should be promoting growth. These creatures are one of Florida treasures, a tourist magnet and thus an economic resource that should be nurtured."

EDITORIAL Our view: Better take care of bats (Star Press [Muncie, IN], 09/06/14)
"[W]ithout bats, the world would be much worse off, and our food would cost us more to buy.... The pest-control advantage bats offer has been valued in studies from a low of $3.7 billion to a whopping $53 billion a year. ... Unfortunately, bats in Indiana and in much of the eastern U.S. are dying at a frightening rate from a fungus called white-nose syndrome ... The near destruction of the nation's bat population warrants intense research into efforts to control and hopefully eradicate this fungus."

EDITORIAL: Our View: Wilderness is essential (Santa Fe New Mexican, 09/06/14)
"Such designation ensures survival of species, protects water and perhaps most importantly, provides a quiet place for humans to be alone minus noise or modern distractions. We need wilderness more than the wilderness needs us. In a state where jobs are lagging, the wilderness remains a precious resource that also is an essential economic engine.... Before it is too late, we must set aside additional wild areas as places of refuge for the future."

EDITORIAL: Sacred sea cows: Protect manatees (Northwest Florida Daily News, 09/05/14)
"The mortality numbers are a clear indication that threats to the species have not been lessened, and in fact have increased and broadened. Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a “no” to a move to threatened status at this time."

[EDITORIAL] Environmental Concerns: Manatee Must Keep Its Status (Ledger [Lakeland, FL], 09/03/14)
"Powell's summary: Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a "no" to "downlisting" — a move to threatened status — at present. If threats to manatees have "increased and broadened," changing the classification not only defies science but good judgment."

Now-extinct passenger pigeon still teaches the importance of stewardship and conservation: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH], 09/02/14)
"And this year, marking the centennial of her death, advocates hope to galvanize renewed attention to the need to broaden understanding about other North American species threatened with extinction, from bats and freshwater mussels to Massasauga rattlesnakes, which are endangered in Ohio. More than 190 museums, zoos, historical societies, universities, libraries and other organizations around the country -- including 19 in Ohio -- are involved in "Project Passenger Pigeon" to raise awareness about "lessons from the past for a sustainable future" and to involve more people in saving other species from extinction. It's an important and worthy effort."

Editorial: Endangered species (Gainesville Sun [FL], 09/02/14)
"Despite the slow and very slight increase in the number of manatees during the past 50 years, threats to survival have increased. ... The mortality numbers are a clear indication that threats to the species have not been lessened, and in fact have increased and broadened. Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a “no” to a move to threatened status at this time."

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."