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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Defenders of Wildlife

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Editorial - Duke Energy should clean out aging, leak-prone coal-ash ponds (Wilmington Star-News [NC] , 04/11/14)
"It would be more constructive for the utility and regulators to come up with a plan that will eliminate the threat of coal-ash pollution by removing the coal ash from vulnerable locations."

Op-ed: Will sage grouse go the way of the lesser prairie-chicken (Salt Lake Tribune [UT] , 04/11/14)
Ed Arnett And Terry Riley: "As wildlife biologists, hunters, and conservationists, we watched closely as the fate of the lesser prairie-chicken unfolded on March 27 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the medium-sized game bird as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.... the lesser prairie-chicken can be restored and eventually de-listed if responsible conservation practices are followed. We also can avert the need to list as threatened or endangered another once-abundant game bird, the greater sage grouse, if conservation practices are embraced."

What The Media Should Know About Those New Judicial Confirmation Numbers (Media Matters for America, 04/10/14)
Meagan Hatcher-Mays: "When the number of vacancies Obama has to deal with in comparison to Bush is added to an examination of their respective records, it is evident that the president still has a long road ahead to leave office with a rate similar to his predecessor, especially in the face of Republicans' unprecedented obstructionism. Even though the total number of Obama's confirmations has exceeded Bush's, Obama has more vacancies to fill and has to appoint more nominees than his predecessor. ... Obama still has 31 judicial nominees pending, many of whom would be confirmed to jurisdictions facing what's known as a "judicial emergency.""a

Obama's Had a Lot More Judicial Vacancies to Fill than Bush Did (People For blog, 04/10/14)
"Bush had 88% of his nominees confirmed at this point, while Obama only has only had 79%. One reason Obama has made so many more nominations is that there have been so many more vacancies to fill. While 270 judicial vacancies have opened up since January 2009, only 202 had opened up during the corresponding period during President Bush's time in office. So, for Obama: Lots more vacancies than Bush. Lots more nominations than Bush. Yet basically the same number of confirmations as Bush. That isn't parity."

Editorial: Politicians and the lesser prairie chicken (Winfield Daily Courier [KS] , 04/10/14)
"The federal Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. Robin Jennison of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks says this is premature. But anyone who has watched or hunted prairie chickens over the past 60 years knows their decline is not just a result of recent droughts — as Jennison claims.... Instead of spending a lot of taxpayers’ money to sue the federal government over this long-delayed designation, our elected leaders should get behind the plan and actually try to preserve the lesser prairie chicken."

DOYLE: Judicial vacancies reflect badly on American leadership (Marquette Tribune [WI], 04/10/14)
SEAMUS DOYLE Viewpoint: "there are 34 judicial emergencies – long-term judicial vacancies – in federal courts. This means throughout the United States, there is a chronic shortage of federal judges.... The Western District Court of Wisconsin has been vacant since Judge John C. Shabaz left his seat in January 2009, 1,906 days ago. James D. Peterson was nominated to fill the vacancy Jan. 6, but with the current impasse in Congress, he is yet to be confirmed.... the Eastern District of Wisconsin has been vacant since October 2012 and no one is nominated to fill it.... to dismantle the judiciary is irresponsible."

Editorial: Road to disaster; New IPPC report underscores the consequences to humans’ willful ignorance (Chico News & Review [CA], 04/10/14)
"Drought, desertification, the death of coral reefs, declining fish populations, soil degradation and extreme weather are some of the immediate consequences of climate change.

So Many Vacancies, So Little Cooperation from GOP Senators (People For blog, 04/10/14)
"Of the 37 current vacancies without nominees, all but six are from states with at least Republican senator. And of those six, only one is more than a year old. Despite White House consultations with home state senators, vacancies are remaining open and without nominees for far too long - sometimes years - in states with Republican senators."

Legislature shouldn't weaken levee board reforms: Editorial (Advocate [Baton Rouge, LA], 04/09/14)
"Gov. Jindal's move to get more control over the authorities is not surprising, given how upset he was about the lawsuit the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed last year in hopes of forcing 97 oil and gas companies to pay for damage to the state's coastline."

Guest commentary: Why is lawsuit such a bad idea? (Advocate [Baton Rouge, LA], 04/09/14)
Prof. Oliver Houck: "Louisiana legislators, still searching for a reason to quash the New Orleans levee board’s you-broke-it-you-fix it lawsuit against major oil companies, have turned up instead a canard. ...I do not think we are ready to write off the 5 million acres of wetlands that used to buffer us from the Gulf of Mexico and have provided so much bounty.... Not much time, though, because of the beast whose name our legislators have trouble mentioning as well: sea level rise. Every time it is measured, the rates go up. ... Louisiana will require major funding to hold whatever line it can.... but one big player is missing: the one that created much of our predicament (most conservative estimates start at one-third of coastal loss), made large sums of money so doing and has so far avoided paying any part of the bill: The oil and gas industry. That is all the levee board suit is asking: not that this industry be heaped in blame, not that it pay for all harm, just that it pay its share."

Editorial: BLM plans better wild horse controls (Bend Bulletin [OR], 04/09/14)
"It has a long way to go to completion, but the proposed 2015 budget for the federal Bureau of Land Management contains good news for Central Oregon. The agency will increase spending on wild horse management, and it will continue its efforts to improve sage grouse habitat in an effort to forestall the bird’s listing under the Endangered Species Act."

Editorial: Climate change hits food prices (The Olympian [WA], 04/09/14)
"In its recent 32-volume report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that food prices could increase by as much as 84 percent over the next four decades, just due to climate change."

Editorial: Heed agency’s warning about coal ash toxicity (Aiken Standard [SC], 04/09/14)
"Waste from ash ponds is saturated with toxic pollutants, including arsenic and chromium, which can threaten public health.... State officials should fight to protect our natural resources and ensure they remain clean and sustainable for future generations."

EDITORIAL Our Views: Don’t limit court actions (Advocate [Baton Rouge, LA], 04/09/14)
"We’d prefer a political answer to the coastal catastrophe in which the many parties who compromised Louisiana’s wetlands over the years help pay the billions it will cost to repair them. But without the threat of court action, what’s the incentive for powerful corporate interests to come to the negotiating table? Decades of political expedience led to the environmental disaster of Louisiana’s vanishing coastline. These bills seem like more of the same, and that’s bad news for a state so vulnerable to continuing coastal decline."

BuzzChatter Tuesday  (Kansas City Star, 04/08/14)
Steve Kraske: "Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft derailed White 15 years ago for being — in Ashcroft’s words — soft on crime. Many viewed that attack as unfair and a political ploy connected to Ashcroft’s intense re-election fight against Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000. Now White is getting a rare second chance, although Jason Rosenbaum reports his prospects remain uncertain."

Richard Burr blue slip watch Day 293: Is NC Senator really throwing in with the secessionists? (Progressive Pulse [NC], 04/08/14)
Rob Schofield: "As Andrew Cohen, contributing editor at The Atlantic explains in “How to secede from the union one judicial vacancy at a time,” it really boils down to a matter of extreme, cynical, hardball politics"

Editorial: With heat comes hunger (Albany Times Union [NY], 04/08/14)
"The United Nations group says fish already are migrating due to the climate-induced changes in the oceans, and that North America can expect more drought, floods, coastal erosion and wildfires — all happenings that affect food production."

Editorial: Disaster response plans get a needed boost (Poughkeepsie Journal [NY] , 04/08/14)
"Climate change and other changing weather conditions are likely going to lead to more powerful storms throughout the Northeast, especially along the coast and even the Hudson River."

Editorial: Flowing under the radar (Anniston Star [AL] , 04/08/14)
"Were it not for environmental groups keeping watch on the Alabama Legislature, lawmakers in Montgomery might have slipped through yet another stealth bill.... The matter in question is stormwater runoff, which, of all the things that pollute streams, is one of the worst.... It’s clear that this is one more attempt to block Environmental Protection Agency rules and poke a finger in the federal eye, something Alabama legislators love to do. But in doing this, the state risks being hauled into court for violating the Federal Clean Water Act. If so, Alabama money again would be spent fighting a losing battle."

Editorial: Logic runs through it: An EPA rule will clarify its authority on water (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA] , 04/08/14)
"“All the rivers run into the sea,” notes Ecclesiastes, and they do this even if they are streams that do not flow all year. As long as water flows downhill, pollution in one place can be carried to another. So it makes sense that the Environmental Protection Agency has long sought to recognize this reality. But Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 have confused the understanding of which waterways can be subject to EPA rules. On March 25 it issued a proposal to clarify that intermittent streams near bigger ones will be covered."

Editorial: Ho-hum. Climate change is bad and getting worse (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 04/08/14)
"The geographic ranges of marine and land species have changed, along with migration patterns and the abundance of some species....Climate change, as the latest U.N. report emphasizes, is real and getting worse."

How to Secede From the Union, One Judicial Vacancy at a Time: By refusing to help fill the nation's empty trial benches, some senators are intentionally creating a vacuum of federal legal authority. (Atlantic, 04/08/14)
Andrew Cohen: "One federal-trial seat in Texas has been vacant for 1,951 days, to give just one example. The absence of these judges, in one district after another around the country, has created a continuing vacuum of federal authority that is a kind of secession, because federal law without judges to impose it in a timely way is no federal law at all.... Whereas judicial vacancies decreased both during the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations—especially the latter—they have increased during the Obama Administration. The reason there are so many vacancies without nominees is that certain senators are making strategic choices not to recommend federal trial-court nominees to the White House."

Editorial: Time grows short; The calamity of climate change will be televised (Daily Astorian [OR] , 04/07/14)
"If no significant action is taken within the next 15 years to lower carbon emissions, the problem could become virtually impossible to solve with current technologies. With governments largely unwilling to come to grips with climate reality, it is more essential that business leaders raise the alarm. And many of them are."

Congress: Republicans Create Excellent Roadblocks (Bloomberg News, 04/07/14)
Jonathan Bernstein: "Republican obstruction has been a lot worse during the Obama years than Democratic obstruction was during the Bush years. We don’t need the numbers to know this. Senate Republicans established a new 60-vote standard for all judicial branch nominees at the beginning of the Obama presidency; they have repeatedly chewed up floor time even when they didn’t have the votes to block nominations; and, in an unprecedented step, they blockaded three D.C, Circuit Court seats by filibuster.... If Republicans claim a Senate majority next year, they’ll have the votes to back up opposition to many of Obama’s picks. Even in that circumstance, they’ll have the (shared) responsibility to cut deals. It would be totally reasonable for them to defeat some solidly liberal judges, but hugely irresponsible for them to shut down all confirmations (or to attempt to dictate to the president who he should nominate)."

Editorial: Our View: Pay heed to report on climate change (Herald [Rock Hill, SC], 04/07/14)
"Report by U.N. climate panel states that the world already is experiencing some of the dire effects of climate change....In the U.S., with Congress unable to break the stalemate on legislation to reduce carbon emissions, President Barack Obama has been reduced to confronting climate change by way of executive orders....The nation needs a comprehensive battle plan, including a carbon tax to discourage use of fossil fuels; incentives to develop and use more clean energy sources such as solar and wind; and renewed emphasis on increasing energy efficiency at all levels. And, as the U.N. report makes clear, there’s no time to waste."

Inquirer Editorial: Cleaning up New Jersey's act (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 04/07/14)
"With a new United Nations report showing global warming is getting worse, the window to protect food supplies and endangered coastal communities is closing. But progress is being made. In New Jersey, an appellate court has ruled that Gov. Christie was wrong to pull out of a regional compact to reduce climate-changing pollution.... it's clear that New Jersey should return to the RGGI.... Christie should take a cue from the Environmental Protection Agency, which ... for a decade after a court order failed to clarify its authority under the Clean Water Act. The EPA recently issued a rule placing millions of acres of wetlands and miles of streams under its jurisdiction."

If Legislature forbids levee lawsuits, Louisiana taxpayers will pay the price of coastal repairs: Mark Davis (Times-Picayune [LA] , 04/06/14)
"Right now, the Legislature is deciding whether or not Louisiana is best served by re-politicizing our flood protection and inoculating the oil and gas industry against having to live up to its obligations to our coast and environment. Both moves stem from the decision by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East to file a lawsuit against a number of oil and gas companies for impairing the authority's ability to provide flood protection by failing to live up to their legal duties to repair the damage they have done to our coastal wetlands."

Editorial, 4/6: The right focus on climate change (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 04/06/14)
"The United Nation’s new emphasis on the need to adapt to climate change is welcome.... The debate over climate change is essentially over. It’s happening. The deniers will always be among us, in the same way a segment of the population rejects the theory of evolution."

‘Blue slips’ carry out constitutional duty (Times Argus [VT] , 04/06/14)
Senator Patrick Leahy: "I cannot recall a single judicial nominee being confirmed over the objection of his or her home-state senators. The blue slip process reflects this reality, and those who care about the courts and who want qualified judges confirmed should not overlook this fact. Those who believe that doing away with the blue slip process will bring only positive change are also forgetting that the like-minded will not always occupy the White House or control the Senate. ... I have long made clear that I would not rule out proceeding with a nomination if the blue slip is abused."