Editorials and Opinion
The Register's Editorial: Good things could flow from water lawsuit (Des Moines Register [IA], 01/26/15)
"The lawsuit the Des Moines Water Works contemplates filing against three Iowa counties is not a war against rural Iowa, as some would have it. Rather, it is a civilized approach to resolving a threat to public health.
The public utility that provides drinking water to a half-million customers in central Iowa has turned to the courts for a remedy for water pollution that the legislative and executive branches of Iowa government have failed to deliver.... the Water Works would be asking a federal court to declare that emissions from the drainage districts managed by the three named counties fall under the definition of "point sources" under the federal Clean Water Act. ... If Iowa farmers and state officials are serious when they say they are determined to clean up the state's water, then they have nothing to fear from a lawsuit that aims to make sure the steps they are taking are having a measurable effect."
Rand Paul's Brand of Judicial Activism (Bloomberg News, 01/26/15)
Cass R. Sunstein: "For many decades, the Supreme Court’s 1905 decision in Lochner v. New York has ranked among the most universally despised rulings in the history of American law....Within the federal courts, Paul’s position is closely aligned with that of Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Brown has contended that the New Deal “inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality,” which transformed the Constitution into “a significantly different document.” In a recent opinion, she complained that without an active judiciary, “property is at the mercy of pillagers.” Judge Brown has no enthusiasm for judicial restraint. Along with like-minded colleagues, she has played a leading role in a series of aggressive lower-court decisions, striking down restrictions on commercial advertising, invalidating financial regulations and otherwise protecting economic liberty.
There’s good reason to resist this trend, which would empower federal judges to exercise far too much authority over the American people."
Editorial: Educated on climate science (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 01/26/15)
"Hundreds of billions in losses are caused by climate change. Coal interests and conservative West Virginia politicians strive to deny or ignore the problem.... The vast majority of world scientists, who do not make their living in the fossil fuel industry, are unanimous in warning that the peril is real. ...hank heaven, the state Board of Education finally sided with science."
The world must tackle climate change: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH], 01/25/15)
"Years of all talk and no action on climate change may finally be over.... naysayers still lurk -- some of them in Congress -- denying that climate change exists or that humans can do anything about it, but they should not hold sway.
The consensus of reputable climate scientists is that the pace of climate change could accelerate with disastrous economic consequences if more isn't done soon."a
PD Editorial: No more red herrings in water talks (Press Democrat [CA] , 01/25/15)
"Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t bite on the smelt vs. farmers argument. Last week, the justices rejected an appeal from the Westlands and Metropolitan water districts, among others, seeking to overturn limits on pumping water from the Delta into canals serving Central Valley growers and Southern California cities. Those limits were put in place to protect the smelt as well as several species of salmon .... The pumping limits withstood scrutiny from the National Academy of Sciences and the federal courts, but .... House members from the Central Valley are again sponsoring legislation to waive the Endangered Species Act as it relates to the delta smelt. But the problem isn’t a tiny endangered fish. It’s a lack of water"
Editorial: Record temps + cheap gas = Time for carbon tax (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 01/23/15)
"The trend lines could not be clearer. Earth's temperature in 2014 was the highest ever recorded, and gasoline prices are below $2 a gallon and their lowest in years. Even the U.S. Senate now is on record as acknowledging global warming exists. Now is the time to pursue a reasonable tax on carbon that would require polluters to pay a fair cost and raise money to start addressing the long-term damage."
EDITORIAL: Backtracking on the Bay (Baltimore Sun, 01/22/15)
"Baltimore County has no shortage of polluted water. ... it came as a bit of surprise to hear Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz offer ... that he'd like to see the timetable for court-ordered water quality improvements delayed beyond the current 2025.... Here's the real craziness of it all: No matter who serves as this state's governor, the EPA is going to hold Maryland accountable for these violations of the Clean Water Act.... it’s not even clear whether existing state standards are sufficient to meet cleanup goals. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other environmental advocates are already in the process of taking the Maryland Department of the Environment to court on the grounds that subdivisions aren’t meeting the requirements of existing stormwater permits and won’t do enough to reduce polluted runoff.... it's been a tough week for the Chesapeake Bay and anyone who cares about its health — or the billions of dollars in economic benefits and thousands of jobs that are associated with it."
Editorial: What role should the USA play? Obama makes mature argument for international cooperation (Daily Astorian [OR], 01/22/15)
" Obama echoed a warning that has been sounded on this page since our newspaper group examined climate change in an award-winning series in 2006.
Pointing to rising temperatures, he quoted the Pentagon warning that climate change is an immediate risk to our national security. “We should act like it.... We share his view that Congress must not endanger the health of our children by failing to act. With the United States pledging to double the pace at which its carbon pollution is cut, even China is committing to limit its emissions. “I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action,” Obama pledged. Finally. The science cannot be ignored and we commend the president for taking the lead."
EDITORIAL: Fish & Wildlife hire merits watching (The Olympian [WA], 01/22/15)
"Idaho has not taken a progressive view toward the challenges of wolf management, for example – certainly not one that reflects the values of most Washingtonians, nor one that has sought innovative ways of dealing with conflict between ranchers and wolves.... research recently conducted at Washington State University has found that killing wolves to manage the conflict with livestock actually fosters the reverse outcome.,,, We hope Unsworth will embrace a commitment to sustaining healthy populations of all Washington’s creatures. Keeping as many species as possible on the landscape – biodiversity – is critical, and wolves are an important keystone species."
Huckabee revives Faubus' idea of nullification UPDATE (Arkansas Times, 01/22/15)
Max Brantley: “I wrote yesterday about Mike Huckabee's proposition — channeling ghosts of Faubus, Wallace, Maddox and more — that states could simply refuse to obey a U.S. Supreme Court order overturning bans on same-sex marriage. The Atlantic writes further about the rise in nullification theory among far-right Republicans … Secession, anyone? UPDATE: Even the Washington Post's right-wing columnist Jennifer Rubin is pounding Huckabee on this.”
EDITORIAL: Saving the wolves (Toledo Blade [OH], 01/21/15)
"The issue has been at least temporarily resolved by a federal court ruling that wolves remain an endangered species in Michigan, and may not be hunted. But wolves — and the ecology — are endangered on Isle Royale, a 206-square mile national park in Lake Superior. There, a native wolf pack has dwindled, thanks to generations of inbreeding, to no more than nine animals. As a result, the moose population is out of control. Moose are stripping vegetation at an alarming rate and may face mass starvation. Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagan has offered his help in capturing wolf packs from the Upper Peninsula and transporting them to Isle Royale, That would be a win for all concerned. The Legislature should speedily authorize this proposal, for the benefit of both man and beasts."
Fill judicial vacancies, including the one in Tennessee (Tennessean, 01/21/15)
Opinion by Tommy Tobin: "With more than 40 vacant seats on the federal bench, our judicial branch is under substantial strain.... One of those vacant seats is in Chattanooga, ... Travis Randall McDonough, Mayor Andy Burke’s chief of staff and counselor, has been nominated for the post.... Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, a former mayor of Chattanooga and an attorney, respectively, should recognize the contribution that McDonough could make to the bench in East Tennessee.
Even with our divided government, let’s push our politicians to govern responsibly and consider judicial nominees on their merits."
Citizens deserve to have judicial vacancies filled (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 01/15/15)
JOHN NEUROHR letter: "On Jan. 8, the Post-Gazette editorial board wrote, “The legislators, who are paid by the public, need to do their jobs. For senators, an important part of that is to act on presidential nominations” (“Congress Returns”)....Locally, there are three long-standing Western District of Pennsylvania vacancies for which Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey should recommend nominees right away. But good nominees with bipartisan support are already waiting for confirmation. One example is U.S. District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, who has been nominated and now renominated by President Barack Obama to join the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Sen. Toomey made public his support for Judge Restrepo, saying he would be a “superb” federal judge. Sen. Casey also called Judge Restrepo an “excellent choice.” Not only is Judge Restrepo qualified, but also he brings much-needed diversity to the bench."
Editorial: Little fish could be delta’s savior (Chico Enterprise-Record [CA], 01/13/15)
"Delta smelt, though, are a marker species, the canary in the delta coal mine. When they start going away, it means the delta ecosystem is in bad shape and other species will follow. That’s what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said back in 2008. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that biological opinion Monday, agreeing with an earlier ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that was challenged to the highest level.... The delta ecosystem — that includes the smelt — shouldn’t have to pay for the poor decisions of San Joaquin farmers and cities.... Nobody should be surprised by environmental restrictions. The government and the courts have long recognized that you can’t just take whatever the environment has.... San Joaquin Valley farmers who feel put off by Monday’s Supreme Court ruling should know there is some precedent. When salmon stocks dwindled in the Sacramento River system, north state farmers made many expensive improvements — things like screening canals, or changing seasonal irrigation schedules, or leaving sensitive land fallow. It has helped immensely .... The delta smelt have been listed as a threatened species since 1993. It’s not like the people complaining about the decision couldn’t see it coming. They just didn’t want to admit that they had to do their part to help a failing ecosystem."
Grassley gets fine start on judiciary (Des Moines Register [IA], 01/11/15)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "The Register's rose to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (Jan. 4 Roses & Thistles) is correct. The new Senate Judiciary Committee chair deserves much credit for expressing his willingness to work cooperatively with Democrats and President Barack Obama on filling the many federal judicial vacancies. The vast majority of Obama nominees have easily satisfied Senator Grassley's criteria, such as competence and moderation, for appointment to the bench. Grassley's Jan. 7 issuance of a checklist of committee priorities, which includes prompt hearings for judicial nominees who did not receive them last year, is also heartening."
EDITORIAL: Emissions reporting: Drillers have the same duty as other industries (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 01/09/15)
"A coalition of nine environmental groups filed suit Wednesday to force the Environmental Protection Agency to add gas and oil extractors to the list of industries that must report emissions to the federal Toxic Release Inventory....In 1997, the EPA unwisely decided to exempt the industry from the emissions reporting requirement. Now, after trying for two and a half years to get the agency to change its mind, the environmental groups filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to force a change....If the EPA won’t impose the reporting requirement on gas and oil extractors, the court should."
EDITORIAL: Drillers’ duty (Toledo Blade [OH], 01/09/15)
"Nine environmental groups filed suit this week to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to add gas and oil extractors to the list of industries that must report emissions to the federal toxic release inventory.... after trying for 2½ years to get the agency to change its mind, the environmental groups are suing to force a change. ...If the EPA won’t impose the reporting requirement on gas and oil extractors, the court should."
EDITORIAL: Congress returns: And there may be cause for cautious optimism (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 01/08/15)
"Although many Washington political players are pondering what Americans should expect of this Congress, it can be summed up fairly simply: The legislators, who are paid by the public, need to do their jobs. For senators, an important part of that is to act on presidential nominations. It is up to Mr. Obama to propose capable professionals as judges, Cabinet heads, ambassadors and other important officials, avoiding controversial nominations that will provoke serious opposition. It is then the Senate’s duty to act quickly on the appointments."
Editorial: A push for federal court diversity No woman of color has ever been a federal judge in Minnesota (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 01/06/15)
"The advisory panel’s review will be only the start of what has become in too many cases a slow, arduous and politically charged appointment process. An applicant who passes muster with the panel must still win the favor of the two senators themselves, receive Obama’s nod and then survive a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate, now controlled by Republicans. Politically motivated delays have become all too commonplace in recent years, to the detriment of smooth-running courts. They could become more prolonged with the White House and the Senate majority now at political odds. This newspaper is rooting for the appointment of a highly qualified candidate who carries little, if any, partisan baggage, and for a fair and expeditious confirmation process. And, like the Infinity Project, we’d welcome an appointment that adds to the diversity of this state’s federal court."
EDITORIAL: Protecting wetlands is worth red tape (Post and Courier [SC], 01/05/15)
"Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 raised questions about EPA jurisdiction over certain bodies of water under the Clean Water Act. The agency hopes to clear up confusion with a new rule that would more strictly delineate its authority to manage so-called intermittent streams and isolated wetlands, among other vital ecosystems....But drainage ditches and farming practices are expressly excluded from EPA regulation under both the new rule and the larger Clean Water Act. Floodplains, groundwater and stock ponds are also generally exempted. It's difficult to argue that the rule is much of an extension of EPA authority at all....And it's important to remember what the Clean Water Act defends: safe drinking water and critical natural ecosystems.... those changes acknowledge that protecting water resources in a necessity, particularly in the face of unrelenting development."
Editorial: GOP now supports judges who upend laws (News & Observer [NC], 01/05/15)
"For decades now, Republicans have used "judicial activism" as a reason to attack Democrats' judicial appointments from the White House to the state house. If a judge dared to overturn any law that was part of a conservative agenda -gay marriage bans being one recent example - then GOP members of Congress and legislatures would cry foul and label the actions "judicial activism." ... Now, the New York Times reports, guess what Republicans are counting on to help them stop or reverse some of President Obama's legislative agenda? Judicial activism!"
EDITORIAL: A rose to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (Des Moines Register [IA], 01/04/15)
"A rose to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley for a move suggesting he wants to help President Barack Obama fill vacancies in the federal judiciary rather than continue the acrimonious confirmation process when Republicans take over the Senate. Grassley's office issued a press release in December inviting lawyers interested in two openings in the federal trial courts in Iowa to submit applications to his office. ... Grassley's invitation is a good omen that he wants the Senate to act on the president's nominees. As well he should. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley will be in a position to make that happen, and he should make it happen for all states where judicial vacancies exist, not just his own."
EDITORIAL: The EPA’s move to regulate ‘coal ash’ is a step forward (Washington Post, 01/02/15)
"EPA’s latest move to regulate huge accumulations of “coal ash” is, if anything, too modest.... coal ash pits saw major spills — one in Tennessee in 2008 and one in North Carolina in 2014 — that fouled rivers and endangered people and wildlife. Environmentalists report dozens more instances of air or water contamination ...Environmental activists warn that the EPA declined to classify coal ash as hazardous waste, a designation that would have triggered stricter federal oversight. ... EPA is largely leaving enforcement to the states, which have been the only overseers before now, though private citizens and environmental groups will be able to sue to demand adherence to the rules. The regulations leave room for extremely lengthy delays"
EDITORIAL: Planet Earth, the half-empty zoo (Chicago Tribune, 01/02/15)
"[I]n the 40 years preceding 2010, the world's population of vertebrate animals — our mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians — plummeted by 52 percent.... Many people give only so much bandwidth to environmental crises that seem hopeless and out of reach. Yet the extermination of wildlife is neither. ... Each of us can support these efforts even if we can't single-handedly save what remains of the animal kingdom. We can also push our politicians"
EDITORIAL: Written in feathers (Idaho Mountain Express, 01/02/15)
"A rider in the bill, which had absolutely nothing to do with keeping the government running and everything to do with lawmakers paying back influential donors and constituents, prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service from issuing rules to place sage grouse on the endangered species list. The agency was facing a court-ordered deadline of September 2015 to decide if the grouse would be placed on the endangered species list. ... What they can do is tell us where our common habitat is headed and perhaps foretell our own future if things don’t change. But the sage grouse can only tell us this if we look closely and listen. This will be helpful only if we act intelligently, boldly and soon to protect what sustains those with feathers and those without."
Editorial: More ups than downs (Houston Chronicle, 01/02/15)
"(up)We're aflutter over the seemingly good news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which this week announced it will be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act. Texas is part of the regal butterfly's flyway when it makes it annual 3,000-mile trek from south central Mexico to Canada. The orange-and-black beauty has been under threat because of habitat loss - the agency's press release indicates the loss of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's sole food source, has been hit hard - and mortality due to pesticide use. Those wishing to add their voices to the issue have until March 2 to do so."