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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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EDITORIAL: Ghost wings: 100 years ago the last passenger pigeon died (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 09/01/14)
"The Endangered Species Act has allowed the miraculous comeback of birds like the bald eagles that nest within Pittsburgh’s city limits. But today government regulation is seen as a bogeyman and the Environmental Protection Agency is continually under attack. Next time such myopic sentiments are expressed, pause and hear the beating of ghost wings in the sky, carrying wisdom and warning from the past."

Editorial: Endangered manatees (Ocala Star Banner [FL] , 08/30/14)
"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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service....Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a “no” to “downlisting” — a move to threatened status. If threats to manatees have increased, changing the classification not only defies science but good judgment."

Editorial: Keep manatee protections; Proposed change in status defies both science and logic (Sarasota Herald-Tribune [FL] , 08/29/14)
"Why, we ask, would the government change the classification to threatened, if a return to endangered status would be expected? 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.... The Herald-Tribune Editorial Board defers to Powell and his interpretation of the science -- and we add that, if threats to manatees have "increased and broadened," changing the classification not only defies science but good judgment."

EDITORIAL: Watching the species disappear (Lompoc Record [CA], 08/28/14)
"Most scientists agree that humans are responsible for accelerating the extinction cycle of both plant and animal species."

EDITORIAL: Watching the species disappear (Santa Maria Times [CA], 08/28/14)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the monkeyflower as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.... While we can mourn the potential loss of a small yellow flower in a small plot of North County ground, we also should heed the message of modern science that predicts up to half the species now alive will be gone by 2100. Most scientists agree that humans are responsible for accelerating the extinction cycle of both plant and animal species."

Editorial: Manatees still need maximum protection status (St. Augustine Record [FL] , 08/19/14)
"Federal Fish & Wildlife folks are looking at removing the manatee from the endangered list, under threat of a lawsuit by a group described as having a libertarian bent.... The group that sued is the Pacific Legal Foundation (on behalf of Save Crystal River Inc. — made up largely of economic interests in the area that don’t agree with off-limits manatee zones and lots of idle-speed zones set up to protect the lumbering sea cows from injury or death by the props of outboard motors).... The suffocation of the Indian River Lagoon system, which covers nearly 40 percent of Florida’s east coast, is a strong cause for concern for the health of manatee stocks over the next few years — or far beyond. It makes sense to keep their classification at the endangered level until all effects can be studied."

EDITORIAL: An apology to sharks; Think twice if fins are a menu item. (Houston Chronicle, 08/18/14)
"The Gulf's population of great sharks has declined by 90 percent. Sharks are especially vulnerable to extinction because of their slow reproduction rates.... industrialized fishing of sharks is one factor leading to the decline in oysters ...Texas lawmakers should act to enact a ban on the sale or trade of shark fins.... if we act appropriately, perhaps museums won't be the only place that sharks can be found in the future."

EDITORIAL: Our View: The Wilderness Act has earned its keep (Idaho Statesman, 08/17/14)
"In an age of legislative gridlock characterized by polarized views on public lands ...would things such as the Wilderness Act, the Clean Water Act (1948) the Clean Air Act (1963) and the Endangered Species Act (1973) have a prayer of passage? ... We Americans have a funny way of resisting big, bold moves at the time of consideration. But generations later, many of these monumental public-land moves gain respect, and we can hardly imagine a time or a future without them."

Editorial The fate of the California gnatcatcher (Los Angeles Times, 08/13/14)
"U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should not be changing wildlife policy based on a single study funded in part by the industry that stands to gain from it.... the Fish and Wildlife Service should commission its own thorough, independent studies and then make a decision on whether the California gnatcatcher meets the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, basing any future decision on a solid body of replicated research, not on one or two studies, and not on rhetoric from either side."

Editorial: A water bond seems within reach, if no side overreaches (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 08/12/14)
"Legislation by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, and embraced by the other 14 House Republicans from California would loosen the Endangered Species Act, on the theory such a step would open the spigots. The measure no doubt makes some Central Valley water users feel good. But it has little chance of passing the Senate and would enflame California’s environmentalists, who would be key to any coalition seeking to pass the bond. California’s water problem isn’t the Endangered Species Act. It is that there hasn’t been sufficient rain in the past three years."

EDITORIAL: A Destructive Epidemic (New York Times, 08/10/14)
"A new study, published in Science last week, concludes that little brown bats are likely to be extinct within two decades, possibly sooner. According to bat conservation experts, this is “the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife in recorded history” ,,, Without them, the balance of nature will be changed, with potentially significant impact on agriculture and forestry ,,, We need to do everything we can to understand and counteract this terrible scourge."

EDITORIAL: Green, but not with envy (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA], 08/08/14)
"Lake Erie is not unique. Algae blooms feast on excessive agricultural runoff around the world. The Gulf of Mexico experienced one last year that was as big as Connecticut. Another bloom killed scores of manatees in Florida last year, and still another sickened hundreds of marine mammals along California’s central coast. Yet, public policy is slow to respond, and sometimes has been counterproductive. An initiative that just passed in Missouri, and which is gaining momentum in some other agricultural states, would prevent states from implementing the very measures that would diminish agricultural pollution. Called “right to farm,” it also is a right to pollute."

Editorial: A lesson from a friend of the sharks (MetroWest Daily News [MA], 08/05/14)
"As our beaches teem with swimmers, an effort by a 9-year-old boy demonstrates a degree of wisdom beyond his years, and could teach us all a lesson about the importance of one voice speaking up. Back in May, Sean Lesniak of Lowell pushed for a ban on shark finning,...When Gov. Deval Patrick recently signed the measure into law, he made the commonwealth the ninth state to ban the practice."

Inquirer Editorial: Reptile crossing (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 08/05/14)
"While easing human travels via the Atlantic City Expressway, New Jersey officials have admirably accommodated the rare reptiles that might venture to cross the highway. Better yet, they're deploying technology to make sure they do so. Vehicles traveling along the six-lane highway, which divides the Pinelands National Reserve, are a threat to some of New Jersey's already threatened wildlife population. One rare creature that finds its home in the Pinelands is the elusive northern pine snake."

Editorial: What are wolves supposed to do? Order a pizza? Our View: A proposed rule makes it too easy to kill or remove Mexican gray wolves for acting naturally. (Arizona Republic, 08/03/14)
"A proposed new rule for Mexican wolf reintroduction penalizes the animals for eating their natural prey. But it's not all bad: The proposed new rule also would allow reintroduction of captive-bred wolves into new areas. The rule also vastly expands the wolves' range from a relatively small area ... The Mexican wolf reintroduction effort serves a long-standing goal of preserving and restoring endangered species, and reflects a shared national value for species diversity....Mexican wolves are the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America. They deserve protection that respects the value they bring to the ecosystem."

Editorial: Grins and Grimaces (Knoxville News Sentinel [TN], 07/26/14)
"A look at recent events in the news that pleased us ... .. and one that did not. Bat population drops: This summer Indiana State is leading a 12-week project to net bats in remote areas of the Smokies to see how white-nose syndrome, a fast-spreading disease that is wiping out species of cave-hibernating bats across the U.S., is affecting bats in the park. Researchers are especially interested in how it has affected the park's Indiana bats, a federally endangered species, and the northern long-eared bat, which is under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be listed as threatened or endangered."

Editorial: Bison talks must stay cooperative (Bozeman Daily Chronicle [MT], 07/18/14)
"Members of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Bison Discussion Group are to be commended....The very idea of establishing a wild bison population has met bitter resistance from landowners and ranchers ... even those who live in areas where bison are introduced stand to benefit, with new economic opportunities stemming from ecotourism."

Eagle editorial: Prairie chicken plan misguided (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 07/18/14)
"Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for the state to raise and release lesser prairie chickens didn’t help his argument that Kansas should be trusted to protect the threatened species. It’s hard to be taken seriously when scientists are laughing.... “It’s almost impossible to conceive how someone could violate the rule other than by deliberately going out and shooting a chicken,” said Jason Rylander, a staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, one of three environmental groups that are suing for more aggressive protections of the birds."

Editorial: Added protection for loggerhead turtles (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 07/18/14)
"The federal government has taken a needed step to protect the imperiled loggerhead sea turtle. While the designation of beachfront in Florida and five other states as critical habitat is not extraordinary, it gives the turtles a better chance to increase their numbers by making for a safer nesting season."

Editorial: A condor is born, and Utah is a little better place; New Utahn is an old friend. (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 07/17/14)
"For the first time in decades, a California condor has hatched in Utah.... this is just the tale of what happens when one species takes on the task of preserving another for no other reason than to continue the vast tapestry of living things on the planet. Call it a vulture of diversity."

Editorial: Don't mess with Texas' big cranes; Leadership needed to spearhead protection of the state's environment and wildlife. (Houston Chronicle, 07/11/14)
"The extinction scenario for the most famous avian residents of the Texas coast is not farfetched. And anyone who has marveled at the majesty of the 5-foot-tall birds foraging for blue crabs in their wintering grounds at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport has to be saddened by the June 30 ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel said that U.S. District Court Judge Janis Jack abused discretion in finding that 23 cranes had died because of a disruption to their habitat."

Editorial - New habitat designation helps protect loggerheads (Wilmington Star-News [NC], 07/11/14)
"Around these parts, we love sea turtles – especially the loggerheads that arrive on our beaches annually ... The eggs and new hatchlings that emerge from their nests each summer also are tourist draws. Now these fascinating creatures have been granted greater protection from human-created hazards.... It is possible to both protect the young turtles and adopt sensible policies that are good for coastal communities, too. But protect them we must."

Editorial - Any change to monitoring requirement must protect shorebirds (Wilmington Star-News [NC], 07/08/14)
"The federal and state agencies involved in those discussions must ensure that any changes allowed do not weaken protections for the birds and their nests....Among them are the American oystercatcher, the least tern, the black skimmer and the piping plover, which is considered a threatened species."

EDITORIAL: Our View: Loss of pest control is the real scary bat story; A mysterious fungus that is spreading through the region is good news only for mosquitoes. (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 07/07/14)
"The threat of extinction, to one or more bat species, is very real in North America, biologists say. One bat can consume thousands of insects in a night. Their loss could trigger an increase in not only mosquitoes and black flies, but other pests as well. That could, in turn, ease the transmission of insect-borne disease. The impact on agriculture could be great, as well, with some researchers putting the toll in the billions of dollars nationwide."

Editorial: Don't weaken manatee protections (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 07/07/14)
"There is no justification for the federal government to downgrade the protected status of the Florida manatee. It might make it easier for irresponsible boaters and builders to abuse their privileges on the public waterways. But the move would be terrible for the species and send the wrong message about Florida's natural resources. If anything, the state and federal governments should do more to protect these habitats."

Mercury News editorial: Senate should kill plan to increase use of lead ammo (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 07/04/14)
"The health risk to national treasures such as the bald eagle is too high for the NRA and like-minded factions to get their way. Congress should follow California's lead and allow the EPA to regulate lead ammunition as responsible scientific study dictates."

Editorial: If whooper deaths weren't foreseeable, they are now (Corpus Christi Caller-Times [TX], 07/02/14)
"Goodness knows we hear plenty about states' rights. Now, for the sake of the endangered whooping crane, let's hear more about a state's responsibilities. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Texas is NOT responsible for the deaths in 2009 of 23 whooping cranes. That's contrary to what Corpus Christi federal Judge Janis Graham Jack ruled last year. Jack's ruling recognized the state's role in the birds' deaths by allowing too much water capture upstream ... Jack's ruling was based on sound logic and science.... the whooping cranes' continued existence remains precarious.... We concede the appeals court's narrow point that the deaths of the "23" in 2009 weren't foreseeable. But what judge, meteorologist or water supply superintendent in his or her right mind doesn't foresee continued drought in Texas' future? ... he next step is for the state to accept its responsibility, develop a management plan in the birds' best interest and enforce it."

EDITORIAL: Anniversaries worth great celebration (Cape Gazette [DE], 06/27/14)
"The Cape May-Lewes Ferry and Cape Henlopen State Park are celebrating 50th anniversaries this year. Both are truly big deals. The role that each of these institutions plays in the economic vitality and quality of life of Delaware’s Cape Region is nothing short of monumental.... Operations at the terminals and on the vessels provide good local jobs and a positive experience for the passengers who get a sea cruise - often accompanied by porpoise and whale sightings"

EDITORIAL: Our View: GOP: Go to Moscow, Come Back to Reality (Times-News [ID] , 06/11/14)
"Put plainly, the “establishment vs. tea party” spat is destroying Idaho. That’s the problem with a one-party state. If the dominant party goes off the rails, the entire thing falls down. Idaho’s GOP is too busy arguing about the important stuff, like ... spending mountains of cash on a doomed-but-pandering bid to somehow “take back” federal lands that Idaho never actually owned.... And let’s not forget about the wolves. Showing how much they’re hated, we mean really hated, is worth a heap of money, too. The pesky school children can do more with less."... Enough with the absurd initiatives only designed to make “statements.” Enough with the lunacy."

EDITORIAL: Overdue call to environmental accountability (Tennessean, 06/06/14)
"The Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations for limiting carbon emissions from electric power plants, announced this week, were sure to be met with criticism since an alarming percentage of the American public still doubts that man-made climate change is occurring, and in fact accelerating.... ennessee and the entire country must do more to reduce carbon emissions — and on a dramatically larger scale than anything we have yet seen....verage Americans are seeing the results of this inaction in severe weather events, and scientists are seeing the long-term damage, as well, in glacier melt, species extinctions and more....his is a nation of 318 million people that must change its habits, and soon."