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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Defenders of Wildlife

Editorials and Opinion


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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."

Opinion The new battle over Blair Mountain -- with lawyers instead of guns (Los Angeles Times, 09/01/14)
Scott Martelle: "Last week in a 2-1 vote, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the judge’s dismissal, deciding that the plaintiffs did have standing, in part because removing the surface of Blair Mountain would create a landscape where widely appreciated beauty now exists. In dissent, the lone “no” vote questioned whether anyone has a legal right to enjoy the view of another’s property, despite a litany of prior cases the majority cited."

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."

Century's worth of difference in saving wildlife (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 09/01/14)
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife president and CEO: "The disappearance of passenger pigeons spurred an awakening and awareness about the value of preserving wildlife ... By the 1970s, this country had concluded that we should never again be responsible for the extinction of a native wildlife species. That is why Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA), our nation's most important safety net for imperiled animals and plants on the brink of extinction. Though the ESA came too late to protect the passenger pigeon and Martha, it has effectively shielded thousands of species from their fate. Thankfully, today, gray wolves, humpback whales, southern sea otters, peregrine falcons, and Florida manatees and panthers still walk this planet precisely because we vowed to protect them through the ESA. ... Without a strong ESA, the decline of many species would accelerate until they too vanished, even ones so numerous they darken the sun and the face of the Earth."

A silver lining in the passenger pigeon's demise: Jamie Rappaport Clark (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH] , 08/31/14)
"For the last 40 years, our nation has maintained an incredible track record of protecting our own imperiled wildlife at risk. That's because in 1973, 60 years after the pigeon's demise, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA), our nation's most effective wildlife conservation law. Thanks to the ESA, we've been able to save bald eagles, peregrine falcons, Florida manatees, Southern sea otters, American alligators, grizzly bears, black-footed ferrets and hundreds of other species from an inevitable slide towards extinction.... We couldn't save Martha's species, but there are many species today facing similar threats that we still can save but only if the ESA remains strong. There are some in Congress who would dramatically weaken or gut the ESA in pursuit of short term economic gain, the same motivation that drove the market hunters of Martha and her species. The American people must reject efforts to weaken the ESA and continue to learn from our own history, so today's species don't follow Martha's path into extinction."

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: Don't reduce protection for endangered waters (Sun Sentinel [FL], 08/29/14)
"The bill would block a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule intended to bring much-needed clarity to which streams and wetlands are subject to protection under the federal Clean Water Act. ... But Florida hasn't earned the right to be trusted with more control. ... Wetlands are a vital link in Florida's water supply. They store and filter water, and replenish aquifers, streams, rivers and lakes. They provide flood protection and habitat for wildlife. They are critical to the life cycles of many fish and birds. Federal authority to protect wetlands has been in question since a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. ... Leaders from Florida, of all states, shouldn't stand in the way of a federal effort to reinforce protection for water."

EDITORIAL: A climate for change: A solution conservatives could accept (Washington Post, 08/28/14)
"The country is reaching a moment of decision on global warming. Scientists’ warnings are sharpening, and President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is acting in the absence of a policy from Congress. The EPA rules can’t be as clean and efficient as market-based plans such as Mr. Van Hollen’s. That reality could persuade some industry groups and some Republicans to seek a bargain that would replace the EPA efforts with a less bureaucratic approach. Conservatives who truly favor free markets over central planning should come to the table."

EDITORIAL: The cold calculus of global warming (Virginian-Pilot, 08/28/14)
"For years now, industry in Hampton Roads and other vulnerable communities has been tuning out the politics that surround climate change and focusing on their exposure. That won't change the behaviors of those entities that must - as a condition of self-preservation and self-interest - downplay global warming: industries and enterprises that are causing it, and the politicians and pundits who do their bidding in exchange for financial support. ...This helps explain the small yet powerful effort to muddy public discourse about global warming. Peddling doubt has helped protect lucrative, if unsustainable, livelihoods. But, as residents here and in other low-lying communities have seen, and as other businesses are increasingly recognizing, far more people have an interest in understanding - and adapting to - the risk than in ignoring it."

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: 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: Details and dire warnings (Anniston Star [AL] , 08/27/14)
"Climate change deniers will have some explaining to do if the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists is correct about how human activity is dangerously warming our planet. Of course, by the time the worst effects of climate change have destroyed coastlines, hobbled the global economy and upended the lives of millions, the loudest deniers of science will have shuffled off this realm. ... Let’s highlight just one word: “Irreversible.” That’s a long time for humans to contemplate why we didn’t act sooner."

EDITORIAL: A climate for change: The EPA’s limits on emissions are important but not enough (Washington Post, 08/27/14)
"The EPA has drawn up the best possible policy framework under current law, and it is much better than nothing. Congress should not weaken the rules."

EDITORIAL: A climate for change: America should not wait while the world warms (Washington Post, 08/26/14)
"There is now no doubt that the world is warming. ...Waiting to deal with carbon emissions until the effects are clearer or technology improves is not a wise strategy. The emissions humans put into the atmosphere now will affect the climate in the middle of the century and onward. ...Businesses that do not hedge against the threat of uncertain outcomes fail. The world cannot afford such recklessness on climate change."

EDITORIAL: The country’s sinking climate debate [print headline: The certainty of climate change: Action, too, is inevitable. It should be smart--and prompt.] (Washington Post, 08/25/14)
"Despite ups and downs in the polling, a solid majority of Americans favors action to curb greenhouse emissions. ...Action of some kind, at some point, is inevitable. Our proposition is that it should come sooner rather than later and be smart rather than clumsy."

Yes, Republicans Really Are Unprecedented in Their Obstructionism (Mother Jones, 08/25/14)
Kevin Drum: "for Obama. His numbers for his first five years are far, far higher than Bush's even though Bush's are inflated by delays during his final year in office. It's just another example of the fact that, no, both parties aren't equally at fault for the current level of government dysfunction. Republicans greeted Obama's inauguration with an active plan of maximal obstruction of everything he did, regardless of what it was or how necessary it might be in the face of an epic economic collapse. No other party in recent history has done that."

Catch of the Day: Redefining Obstruction (Bloomberg News, 08/25/14)
Jonathan Bernstein column: "even after the "nuclear option" reform in the Senate last fall, President Barack Obama's federal court nominees still wait longer for confirmation than their predecessors under previous presidents....I should stress that these are in many cases delays of non-controversial nominees.... Unfortunately, Republicans simply haven’t abided by longstanding Senate norms. After Obama's election, they suddenly insisted that every nomination required 60 votes -- an unprecedented hurdle. They blockaded multiple nominations to the DC Circuit Court. They have, before and after filibuster reform, used Senate rules to delay even nominations that they have intended ultimately to support. Since reform, they have imposed the maximum delay on every single judicial nominee.... if Republicans win a Senate majority in November, they may simply shut down all nominations for two full years. That would be absolutely outrageous."

EDITORIAL: Scott still doesn't get it on climate change (Sun Sentinel [FL], 08/21/14)
"When it comes to climate change and sea level rise, Gov. Rick Scott likes to simply say "I'm not a scientist."...But the leader of a state that has been called "ground zero" for sea level rise still doesn't buy climate change. That should worry Floridians plenty."

Editorial: Scott meets scientists (Pensacola News Journal [FL] , 08/21/14)
"Yet a perception of ideology-fueled skepticism remains. It has to end. ... Ben Kirtman, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami, showed Scott maps that depicted how two feet of sea level rise — in just a little more than 30 years — “will swallow much of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and nearly all of the state’s barrier islands.” That’s us, beach lovers. ... To be fair, Gov. Scott didn't say he doubted the scientists. But he really didn't say much of anything. He needs to."

Editorial: Scott has heard the science, now he should act (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 08/20/14)
"Gov. Rick Scott gets credit for listening this week to climate scientists ... Now the governor should take the next step and develop a comprehensive approach to addressing an issue that will dramatically affect Florida's future."

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."

Journal Times editorial: More must be done to protect state's water supply (Journal Times [Racine, WI], 08/14/14)
"[R]egulations safeguarding water cannot be subject to complaints of “it’s too expensive to comply.” Water is not a profit/loss issue or a standard-of-living issue, it’s a necessity of life. The Legislature should reconsider its weakening of the state’s phosphorus standard and restore the protections to Wisconsin’s sources of drinking water. We don’t want one of our cities to become the next Toledo, or the next Charleston."

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."

Timely attack on toxic algal blooms will translate into votes: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH] , 08/10/14)
"The people have spoken and they understand the urgency of the situation – the season of toxic blooms peaks between August and October. The people's representatives have to do so, too."

Editorial: Toledo water woes a wake-up call; In a modern U.S. city some 400,000 residents went days without water after an algae bloom turned the waters of Lake Erie into something resembling pea soup. (Shreveport Times [LA], 08/10/14)
"This crisis was almost entirely man-made.... Shreveport also takes its water supply from surface water ... This type of algae needs warm temperatures, nitrogen and phosphorus to grow. Nitrogen and phosphorus arrive in lake waters via sewerage overflows and runoff that contains agricultural and residential fertilizers. Humankind is providing the warmer temperatures through climate change.... At the federal level, lawmakers should stand firm behind the Clean Water Act.... There’s no credible scientific counterweight to the prevailing opinion that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity. Yet policymakers continue to wrangle over the reality of climate change as though it’s fringe science. There are sensible steps that can and should be taken to curb human behavior that causes climate change, but it’s a question many lawmakers aren’t taking seriously."

Editorial: Nobody wants to be the next Toledo (Lima News [OH] , 08/10/14)
"Nobody wants to be the next Toledo, where nearly a half million people were told last weekend they couldn’t use city water to drink, bathe or even brush their teeth.... the toxic algae plumes that caused the problem remain in Lake Erie. They are a product of intensive farming, animal confinements, urbanization and industrialization.... A federal commitment to a multi-state effort is essential"