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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Editorial: Our View: Endangered wolves need a judge's intervention (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 02/12/14)
"Perhaps a federal judge will provide the stewardship North Carolina wildlife regulators have ignored. That would be the responsible course for one of the world's most endangered species. At least nine red wolves were shot and killed last year in the rural northeastern North Carolina counties that are their only home in the wild. It is possible hunters mistakenly thought they were coyotes - the two species have a remarkably similar appearance. That's why it's ludicrous that the state Wildlife Resources Commission last year approved coyote hunting in wolf-habitat counties. And that's why conservationists went to court this week to ask U.S. District Judge Terrance Boyle to stop the coyote hunt. ... We hope Judge Boyle will intervene and give the wolves the protection they need to survive and thrive in natural surroundings."

EDITORIAL: U.S. Senate is tackling drought relief (Fresno Bee [CA] , 02/11/14)
"There is much to like in the senators' ideas. As Feinstein pointed out Tuesday morning in a conference call with The Bee editorial board, the proposed drought relief wouldn't violate the Endangered Species and Clean Water acts."

EDITORIAL: Denying federal authority costly, inconsistent (Arizona Daily Sun, 02/09/14)
DAILY SUN EDITORIAL BOARD: "the situation has clearly gotten out of hand.... when some of the bills get signed by Brewer, taxpayers get stuck paying for legal defenses against claims of unconstitutionality — almost all of which the state has lost.... it’s difficult not to conclude that Republicans are simply playing obstructionist politics with federal laws and programs they don’t like, including voter registration, health insurance, immigration and wolf reintroduction.... Now, there’s a bill to let ranchers kill an endangered Mexican gray wolf suspected of harming cattle — no questions asked. That’s also outside the Legislature’s purview — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the wolf reintroduction program. (And don’t most Arizona ranchers have at least some of their grazing rights on federal lands?)"

Editorial: McConnell's fuming over fish a little off the hook (Lexington Herald-Leader [KY], 02/05/14)
"But, seriously, can't Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rail against what he calls "the radical environmentalists in the Obama administration" without insulting everyone's intelligence? On the Senate floor Tuesday, Kentucky's senior senator rose to berate federal agencies for following federal law after the discovery of the endangered duskytail darter in Lake Cumberland's headwaters....huffed McConnell. "First, the administration is protecting a fish from water. Let me repeat that: the radical environmentalists in the Obama administration don't want this fish to be exposed to too much water. What's next? Protecting birds from too much sky?" Surely, McConnell understands that different fish require different sorts of habitats — just as birds cannot survive on sky alone."

Editorial: Playing chicken; Negotiating measures to protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken in Kansas makes more sense than setting up a legal battle with the federal government. (Lawrence Journal-World [KS], 02/04/14)
"The bill approved in committee declares that any law that protects either the Greater or Lesser Prairie Chicken would be null and void in Kansas. Never mind the problems with the state seeking to prosecute federal officers who are doing their job.... State officials should put more effort into saving this native species and less into setting up a legal fight with the federal government."

Editorial: Wolves are in the crosshairs, thanks to Sen. Gail Griffin; Our View: There's a better plan to coexist with ranchers (Arizona Republic, 02/04/14)
"Pause for a moment and savor this: The population of endangered Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico grew from 75 to 83 last year. That’s nearly double the 2009 count. It’s a victory for our shared national values, which are expressed in the Endangered Species Act. OK. Enough savoring. Now, back to a reality. Lobos remain perilously close to extinction’s cliff, and Arizona’s Legislature is poised to give them a shove over the edge. The Senate Government and Environment Committee approved three measures this week aimed at wolf reintroduction like a bullet to the brain."

Editorial: McCarthy should whip a new water deal into shape (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 02/04/14)
"Among other things, H.R. 3964 would: • Repeal the bipartisan settlement aimed at restoring flows in the San Joaquin River, which once supported spring-run salmon before it started drying up after the Friant Dam was built in the 1940s. This is unnecessary. • Override the bipartisan state law, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009, that requires that any actions in the Delta be aimed at achieving co-equal goals of restoring the Delta and improving water supply reliability."

Editorial: Playing politics with California's drought; Competing interests are working together on water. A House GOP bill would undermine their efforts. (Los Angeles Times, 02/03/14)
"Funny, isn't it, that folks who question man's ability to affect the global climate are so quick to assign human causes to the drought? ... In their imagined "people versus fish" scenario, towns are going dry and growers are going out of business because crazy environmentalists are hogging water to protect an obscure fish, the delta smelt. Water that could irrigate fields and keep people working is instead being kept in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and flushed into the ocean. What they don't like to point out is that without that supposed flush pushing out into the Pacific, seawater would continue to intrude farther into the delta, leaving only useless salty brine to pump into canals and onto fields — and then where would the growers and the rest of us be? ... And as for the smelt, the Endangered Species Act protects not only that fish but all of us, by holding together the fragile environmental web we rely on."

Editorial: Law favors fish over people? No, people need fish (Redding Record Searchlight [CA], 01/29/14)
"“How you can favor a fish over people is something the people in my part of the world would not understand.” So said no less an eminence than House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, last week while visiting California to promote a measure that would waive various federal protections of rare fish and halt an effort to restore salmon to the San Joaquin River.... But let’s be clear about one thing: We don’t favor fish over people, even if the law might look that way sometimes. We favor fish for people. Salmon make a tasty dinner and keep thousands of Northern Californians employed ... Nobody much loves the poor Delta smelt, a “3-inch baitfish” that has become a symbol of misguided priorities to San Joaquin Valley conservatives. But little fish feed big fish. Killing off the bottom of the food chain works about as well as pulling the foundation out from under a house."

EDITORIAL Our View: Playing chicken (Joplin Globe [MO], 01/29/14)
"This notion of ignoring some federal laws, all the while benefiting from others, is nonsense. ... The historical range of the lesser prairie chicken has shrunk by 84 percent because of development and agricultural activities. Those in the state who oppose placing the bird under the protection cite loss of jobs and development. We understand that opposition but don’t agree with the method being used to fight the battle. Fear of regulation would appear to be winning over the loss of yet another species of the prairie chicken. There’s got to be a better way to approach the problem."

Editorial: Water over dams saves salmon (Seattle Times [WA] , 01/28/14)
"U.S. District Court Judge James Redden, who had knocked down three earlier versions of the plan, rejected the 2011 plan because it put the economic interests of river operations above saving endangered fish. The plan was too narrowly centered on habitat mitigation, and lacked reliable, aggressive actions, the judge ruled. One of those points was additional flow over the dams in the spring and summer to help scoot salmon safely toward the ocean.... The plan is likely to be challenged in court, and it will fall to federal Judge Michael Simon to see if the plan is as vague and mushy as viewed by Redden, who subsequently retired. Two lessons seem to be operative here. One is the role of spill to improve salmon survival and returns; no salmon were trucked before the dams appeared."

Editorial: A brazen GOP water grab (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 01/27/14)
"For simple-minded thinking on California's worsening drought, it would be hard to top the ideas trotted out by Republican leaders. Their plan: Divert water to farms and forget the environment.... House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, flew in to talk up the issue, playing the role of the puzzled outsider perplexed by California's water policies. Why not steer the flows to farms, not fish, he suggested, playing on long-running controversies over diverting water to save and restore historic fish runs. At his side were valley Republicans looking for an issue to improve their chances of re-election and widen the appeal of a party as endangered here as the salmon they denigrate."

PD Editorial: No drought in California's water wars (Press Democrat [CA] , 01/27/14)
"[T]he Senate already rejected the House bill once — and for good reason. A drought isn't justification to ignore the Endangered Species Act or undercut one important California industry — salmon fishing — in favor of another — agriculture. Both need assistance to thrive, and both are accomplished water warriors. Boehner surely scored some points with the most militant growers, but his bill isn't going anywhere."

Editorial: California's drought, times three; The state is facing three distinct water crises, each requiring its own emergency and long-term responses. (Los Angeles Times, 01/26/14)
"We may have to build new dams to store water for future use without drying up rivers and destroying the ecosystem, as dams in California historically have done. ...That means diverting some of the delta's water with pumps that do less damage to endangered fish and rely less on earthquake-vulnerable levees. The kind of system envisioned by the Bay Delta Conservation Plan would help all parts of California deal with global climate change and its inevitable result: precipitation that falls on the Sierra less like the snow that generations have come to rely on and more like the rain that comes, when it does, to Southern California in unmanageable torrents."

Editorial: Don't use 'drought emergency' to divide us (Bakersfield Californian [CA], 01/25/14)
"Boehner should know a thing or two about the "nonsense" of a bureaucracy that protects fish and water quality; he should know that when it comes to water, simple answers are exceedingly hard to come by. The legislation Boehner and the three Valley Republicans are proposing -- this time as a short-term emergency response -- was rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate and strongly opposed by state and federal agencies in 2012. Likely the proposed "emergency" legislation will meet the same end this year.... Coastal salmon fishermen say it will destroy their industry. And Delta farmers and environmentalists contend it is a blatant, short-sighted water grab fueled by political contributions from big growers....And increasing Delta exports in a dry year could end up hurting both the Delta and water users to the south. It could suck salty sea water into the Delta and into aqueducts that transport water to Valley and Southland farms and cities."

Boehner vs. fish and Delta farms (Sonoma Index-Tribune [CA] , 01/23/14)
By David Bolling/ Index-Tribune Editor: "Boehner, who is from Ohio and thus revealed his ignorance of both hydrological reality and environmental sustainability while milking the state’s potentially catastrophic drought for profoundly political purposes. Boehner was on hand to lend support to three Central Valley Congressmen who want to adopt federal legislation suspending the endangered species act, reversing restoration of the San Joaquin River and draining the Delta to water farms in Bakersfield, Tulare and Hanford, among other places, during the drought. Reducing the drought to a fallacious equation pitting endangered fish against people mocks science and blocks a rational conversation over wise, realistic and equitable solutions to California’s chronic water crisis. The bill Boehner says he’ll support would protect the interests of some farmers at the expense of others, while placing the future of salmon restoration in even greater peril."

Editorial: A Speaker Boehner runs through it (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 01/23/14)
"Along with GOP Reps. Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao, Boehner said he wants to delay implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Project until 2015, which would leave salmon high and dry. Anything Boehner can do to assist with Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought response would be welcome. Gutting the intent of the Endangered Species Act isn’t."

EDITORIAL: Trade and the Environment (New York Times, 01/18/14)
"One of the most laudable American goals in negotiating the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other countries was to strengthen environmental protections around the world....American trade agreements have asked trading partners not to weaken their environmental laws and required them to carry out commitments they had already made under treaties like the Montreal Protocol, which aims to protect the ozone layer, and a convention on the trade of endangered species and wild plants and animals....The Office of the United States Trade Representative said ... “we will insist on a robust, fully enforceable environment chapter in the T.P.P. or we will not come to agreement.” It is important that American negotiators stick to that policy. And members of Congress, who have to ratify all trade deals, should insist on it."

Editorial: Critical tool helps threatened species (Virginian-Pilot, 01/14/14)
"Endangered species in America would become considerably more endangered if the anti-regulation crowd in Congress ever gets its way. Thankfully, that doesn't appear likely, at least anytime soon. The Endangered Species Protection Act, signed by President Richard Nixon, reached its 40th birthday last month. It is one of those federal laws - like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts - that has done immense good for the nation simply by demanding that businesses and people be responsible for their own actions.... Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Dean Heller have introduced legislation that would gut the Endangered Species Act, requiring an act of Congress to add a new animal, allowing states to opt out, and requiring individual protections to be renewed every five years.... such legislation would reverse decades of progress, imperiling species that are already threatened. ... It has worked for 40 years, and it shouldn't be sacrificed simply because animals can't write campaign checks."

Editorial: Florida panther not out of the woods yet (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 01/08/14)
"It's good news that seven fewer Florida panthers died last year than the year before. But 20 deaths is still too high for a subspecies whose wild population numbers as few as 100 adults. ... the panther remains on the state and federal lists of endangered species. ... for the subspecies to truly regain health, state and federal agencies should preserve habitat and corridors to give this population a future in the wild. Local officials can help by embracing smart land use and growth policies to lessen the human impact on these territorial cats."

Editorial: Southeast Florida must head off effects of climate change, sea level rise (Palm Beach Post [FL], 01/04/14)
"The Post reported last month that rising sea levels threaten more than half of Florida’s endangered species. What threatens wildlife also threatens humans, which is why all of Southeast Florida must work to head off this potential crisis."

Editorial: The raptors' return / Success story (Press of Atlantic City [NJ] , 01/02/14)
"40 years ago, New Jersey adopted the Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act, and Congress enacted the federal Endangered Species Act. ... The return of the eagles, ospreys and falcons is also a civics lesson. It teaches us that we can tackle big problems that at first seem insurmountable. We've done it before. This recovery wouldn't have been possible without government programs and without strong environmental regulations."

In Our View/Endangered Species Act As the ESA hits middle age (Herald [WA] , 12/31/13)
"NEPA's environmental impact statements reshaped the responsibility of government, documenting how we affect the natural world and reining in (some) of the damage. ... The ESA was similarly elastic and ambitious. All federal departments would need to work in common cause to conserve the habitats of threatened and endangered species. It was a watershed law that has made a tangible difference not only for threatened critters but for entire ecosystems. As The Herald's Bill Sheets reports, 99 percent of the listed species have avoided extinction. And many of the success stories had a positive effect on mammals of the bipedal variety (read: you and me.) ... Without an ESA, we would have a less ecologically rich planet."

Save the Shark, Save the World (New York Times, 12/31/13)
OP-ED By JOSHUA S. REICHERT: "Given China’s immense size and expanding influence, it has the potential to play a key role in helping to solve the problems of climate change, overfishing, pollution and conservation. The new shark-fin diplomacy may prove to be a pivotal event — but only if China adopts the environmental leadership that the world so desperately needs."

EDITORIAL Our Opinion: Endangered; Proposal before Congress would change the way we protect species (Tallahassee Democrat [FL] , 12/29/13)
"Now, there is a serious threat to the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act (Senate Bill 1731), introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would hand more of the decision-making on endangered species to the states. Each new listing of an endangered species would require a joint resolution of Congress as well as approval of the governors in states affected. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would have to pay landowners more than the market value of their land if its value was reduced by an endangered-species listing. The Fish and Wildlife service would be barred from managing or monitoring species that occur only within one state. Translation: Economics would gain the upper hand over species protection. Here in Florida, home to so many visible and popular endangered species, the people understand the value of the current law. A survey by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences found that 66 percent of those responding felt the Endangered Species Act should be strengthened, and 78 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “the use and development of land should be restricted to protect endangered species.”"

Editorial: Bad year for manatees; With record number of sea cow deaths in 2013, Florida must get serious about self-preservation (Florida Today, 12/29/13)
"Because in a state so dependent on its aquatic environments, looking to 2014 and beyond, manatees just might be Florida's version of a canary in a coal mine."

Editorial: ESA itself must survive (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA], 12/28/13)
"Since President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, 40 years ago today, it has helped about 99 percent of the species that have been listed as endangered to survive - a remarkable record.... some endangerment classifications clash with development interests because preserving a species most often means protecting its habitat. Companion bills now in Congress, for example, would eviscerate the ESA by removing listing from the realm of science and placing it purely within the realm of politics. The bills would require governors in states affected by a listing to sign off on endangerment listings and extensions. And they would require the de-listing of every species every five years and re-listing, species by species, only with the specific approval of Congress. Listing now is handled by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which employ professional biologists for that purpose. The ESA is a successful law that Congress should leave intact to continue its 40-year record of protecting the country's blessing of a rich biological diversity."

PD Editorial: Protecting our natural heritage (Press Democrat [CA] , 12/28/13)
"Today, bald eagles can be seen from Alaska to Florida, their recovery a tribute to the Endangered Species Act.... And, despite inevitable conflicts, it works. Of the approximately 1,500 animal and plant species that have been listed as threatened or endangered, fewer than 1 percent have gone extinct and, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, 68¬percent are stable or thriving.... Some in Congress are looking to gut the law. They shouldn't be allowed to succeed. As the recovery of the bald eagle shows, some things are worth extra effort and expense."

EDITORIAL: Bad year for manatees, dolphins OUR OPINION: High death rates require urgent federal, state response (Miami Herald, 12/28/13)
"But manatees and dolphins keep dying, and nobody knows how to save them. Dolphins, in particular, are harbingers of the overall health of our oceans. For that reason alone, federal and state officials should be alarmed enough to stem these killing seasons as quickly as possible."

Editorial: Americans can be proud of law that saved eagles, gators (Times and Democrat [SC], 12/27/13)
"THE ISSUE: Endangered Species Act; OUR OPINION: ‘Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation’ than American animal life.... The Endangered Species Act in the eyes of most Americans has been a success in its 40 years. The bipartisan legislation is credited with saving hundreds of species from extinction ... And the law continues to work today to protect and recover more than 2,100 animals and plants in the United States and around the world."