Editorials and Opinion
Now In Charge, Senate Republicans Slow To Move Forward With Obama's Judicial Nominees (Huffington Post, 03/18/15)
"Republicans haven't confirmed a single one of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees since taking control of the Senate in January. In total, there are 16 judicial nominees waiting in the Senate. Nine of them haven't moved at all since being nominated in early January or early February. Five have made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but have been waiting weeks for a floor vote. The remaining two had hearings last week, but the committee hasn't scheduled any votes yet.
There's a particular urgency to confirming some of these nominees. Eight are slated to fill empty seats on courts that are facing "judicial emergencies,"... By this point in Bush's seventh year in the White House, Democrats had confirmed 13 of his judicial nominees."
Editorial: Silence won't counter climate change (Pocono Record [PA] , 03/16/15)
"Climate science is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Scientific findings ought to be a starting point for creating sound policy, using a process that encourages bipartisan discussion."
EDITORIAL: Gov. Rick Scott keeps handing comics material -- and the nation laughs (Herald [Bradenton, FL] , 03/14/15)
"Gov. Rick Scott stuck a finger in a socket and shocked the nation with his unwritten policy about two seemingly harmless phrases. State employees shall not utter either "climate change" or "global warming." Or "sustainabilty."... Enlightened Republicans now concede the existence of manmade climate change once the scientific evidence became overwhelming and the vast majority of researchers agree."
EDITORIAL: ExxonMobil deal a cheap budget gimmick (Daily Record [NJ], 03/13/15)
"Outrage over Gov. Chris Christie’s recent lowball settlement with ExxonMobil focused primarily on the disparity between the state’s $8.9 billion damage claim and the final $225 million deal.
What makes the sellout even more egregious, however, is that the governor is pulling this stunt in part just to generate a quick-fix budget filler, taking away money that should be directed toward more environmental cleanup."
Editorial: Scott's climate change denial is a joke — and not funny (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 03/13/15)
"Gov. Rick Scott turned Florida into a national laughingstock last week with reports that his administration had barred any official mention of "climate change."... Scott is sticking his head in the sand instead of working to protect it .... This denial of basic science doesn't help a coastal state struggling to provide water, control flooding and preserve its natural resources."
EDITORIAL: Follow scientific process on threatened wildlife (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 03/13/15)
"Under threat of legislative intervention, and against the recommendation of species and habitat experts, the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission voted last fall to remove the redbelly snake from the state’s threatened-species list.
That only opened the door to more legislative meddling in what should be science-based decision making.... lawmakers should not compound the error by delisting the spotted skunk themselves."
EDITORIAL: Debate on climate change should be over (Seattle Times [WA] , 03/12/15)
"There should be vigorous debate about the most effective way to ease Washington away from fossil fuels, limit our carbon emissions and move toward more renewable energy sources.
But getting to that debate must start with the simple acknowledgment: Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been emitting carbon at unprecedented rates, and that is changing our climate."
EDITORIAL: This is unsettling (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 03/12/15)
"Gov. Christie's course change in a lawsuit seeking restitution for the environment and people of the state also has an unpleasant odor. The case was in litigation for 11 years, and following an eight-month trial last year and final briefs in November, a state Superior Court judge was about to set damages. But before he could, the Christie administration fashioned a surprising proposed settlement.
Under the deal, the same government that had asked for $8.9 billion in damages agreed to accept astonishingly little: $225 million.... while several other polluters had agreed to settlements to cover the harm they had done to the environment, Exxon refused. If this deal goes forward, the message to polluters is that they can have their way with the state."
EDITORIAL: A climate change for Gov. Scott (Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/12/15)
"This week’s ruckus over Florida officials’ unofficial ban on use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” has had one positive result: Gov. Rick Scott, a longtime global warming skeptic, now says maybe we should do something about it."
McConnell Should Let Senate Confirm Judges (People For blog, 03/10/15)
"Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to schedule a confirmation vote on the four district court nominees who cleared the Judiciary Committee without opposition nearly two weeks ago:... Texas in particular is in desperate need of more federal judges. The Lone Star State has a shocking 11 judicial seats currently vacant (with a twelfth one opening this spring). ... Of those eleven vacancies, seven have been designated judicial emergencies. That's nearly one third of all the judicial emergencies nationwide. Confirming the three Texas nominees who have been waiting for Senator McConnell to schedule a floor vote would help alleviate this problem.... The Judicial Conference of the United States has asked Congress to create an additional two judgeships in the Southern District of Texas. In other words, even if all three pending nominees were confirmed today, and the other two vacancies were magically filled tomorrow (even though they don't have nominees), the crushing caseload burden on the Southern District is so bad that at least another two judges would be needed to ensure that the people of Texas have access to a fair and efficient federal court system."
Why Only Two Judges for Hearings This Week? (People For blog, 03/10/15)
"Good news: For the first time since January, the Senate Judiciary Committee is allowing a hearing on judicial nominations. The bad news: Although seven nominees have been waiting since last November, Chairman Chuck Grassley is only allowing a hearing for two of them.
That's right … although the number of circuit and district court vacancies has increased from 39 to 51 since the beginning of the year, and even though the number of judicial emergencies has jumped from 12 to 22 in that time, and even though there are numerous nominees who could have a hearing this week ... . But why only two nominees on the agenda? Dale Drozd would fill a judicial emergency in California's Eastern District. LaShann DeArcy Hall and Ann Donnelly would serve in New York's Eastern District. Travis McDonough has been nominated for a seat in Tennessee's Eastern District. And L. Felipe Restrepo would fill a judicial emergency on the Third Circuit, where a second vacancy will be opening up in July. They all have to wait."
Share on email Share on twitter 4 Follow This Article Editorial: Seismic testing, drilling aren't worth the risk (St. Augustine Record [FL] , 03/10/15)
"Truth is, it all remains a big question mark. But the feared damage from seismic testing isn’t only on right whales, though they get a lot of the eco-press — think real big manatees. Recently the U.S. government concluded that there would be “minor to negligible” impact on most wildlife ... “with the exception of sea turtles and marine mammals.”
Exception duly noted.... It’s great that St. Augustine took center stage on an issue with so much potential to damage our oceans, economy and, in our city’s case, a lot of heritage as well. The economic upside of drilling, forgetting the environmental dangers, simply does not outweigh the downside. Together, they’re a one-two punch of threat."
Editorial: A Reckless Call From the Senate’s Leader (New York Times, 03/09/15)
"For all his partisan animus toward President Obama, it is still shocking to see the Senate’s majority leader, Mitch McConnell, urge the nation’s governors to undermine the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming."
GOP Senate Moving Obama's Judges Slower than Democrats Moved Bush's (People For blog, 03/05/15)
"Two months into the new 114th Congress, it's a good time to take stock of how the Republican-controlled Senate is doing when it comes to processing circuit and district court judicial nominations. So far, the Judiciary Committee has held only one hearing to consider such nominations ... current vacancies has climbed from 39 at the beginning of the year to 47 today, and the number of judicial emergencies has jumped from 12 to 21.... Considering that there are seven circuit and district court nominees who were nominated back in November, they should all have hearings as soon as possible."
Christie must come clean in oily Exxon settlement | Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 03/05/15)
"He was in charge of $8.9 billion suit against the petrochemical and oil refinery plant that filled our wetlands with 9 million cubic yards of tar, so Christie's reported agreement to settle for $250 million is a travesty for environmental protection and law enforcement.
That alone demands public disclosure, and if there isn't a suitable explanation other than this governor's kleptomaniacal impulse to grab whatever environmental funds are within reach, the judge should reject the settlement."
McConnell's Personal Partial Shutdown (Bloomberg News, 03/04/15)
Jonathan Bernstein column: "Two months into the new Congress, the Senate has confirmed only two executive-branch nominees .... And no judges at all. This inaction doesn’t get headline coverage, but it should. As judicial vacancies increase, people have to wait for trials .... Through March 4, 2007, Democrats had already confirmed 18 of George W. Bush's nominees: eight judges, including a circuit court judge, and 10 executive-branch officials. ... simply refusing to allow most positions to be filled is an abuse of power, and McConnell needs to be called on it."
More Delay on the Restrepo Nomination (People For blog, 03/04/15)
"Qualified jurists nominated for federal judgeships way back in November are still waiting to have a committee hearing scheduled. They include Kara Farnandez Stoll, who would be the first woman of color on the Federal Circuit, and L. Felipe Restrepo of Pennsylvania, who would be the first judge on the Third Circuit with experience as a public defender. The Third Circuit vacancy has been designated a judicial emergency, and with another vacancy on that court opening on July 1, it is even more important not to keep delaying Restrepo's already overdue hearing.
Yet a Grassley spokeswoman told The Legal Intelligencer ... that she "couldn't even estimate" a timeframe for Restrepo's hearing.... when the Democratic Judiciary Committee considered Michael Mukasey's nomination to be attorney general.... the committee was able to hold confirmation hearings on six judicial nominees and advance two to the full Senate. It was also able to advance an additional four judicial nominees the week after voting on Mukasey."
EDITORIAL: Herald News: Settling for less in Exxon pollution case (Herald News [Passaic County, NJ] , 03/03/15)
"Still, when you are seeking almost $9 billion and wind up with $250 million, as the state of New Jersey reportedly will do to end a legal battle with Exxon Mobil, it raises many questions. After all, the judgment the state is about to receive would represent less than 3 percent of what it sought.... The state recently settled litigation involving three firms responsible for contaminating the Passaic River for an estimated $355 million despite an original demand for about $5 billion. The state put the bulk of that $355 million into the budget's general fund, leaving only about $67 million to clean up the river.
That same pattern can happen again"
Forum editorial: Survival of species is the goalinf (INFORUM [ND], 03/03/15)
"The Red River Zoo in Fargo continues to enhance its reputation as one of the nation’s protectors and rescuers of endangered species. ... The zoo has grown both in the number of exhibits – including the wildly popular wolf pack – and in its collaborative world-class species conservation research.... Great work is underway out there."
Editorial: For the love of the manatees (Ocala Star Banner [FL] , 03/03/15)
"That 200,000 people a year would venture to an off-the-beaten-path place like Crystal River to see a one-of-a-kind slice of nature like the manatees resting in Three Sisters is testament that it is something not only worth seeing, but worth protecting."
Editorial: And now to celebrate a small species victory (Corvallis Gazette-Times [OR], 03/02/15)
"Rep. Peter DeFazio ... paused while he was back home to celebrate a victory: In just over two decades, a 3-inch Oregon minnow has wriggled back from the brink of extinction, and a lot of people deserve some praise for that.
Federal wildlife managers formally announced a few weeks ago that the Oregon chub has been removed from the Endangered Species List — the first fish ever taken off the roster of imperiled species.... Credit goes to the ESA, but it also goes to private property owners and stakeholders who worked together to secure havens and habitats for the fish — and the other species who call those shallow waterways home.... We’d like to celebrate more such successes, not only locally, but globally. "
EDITORIAL: Sen. Jim Inhofe embarrasses the GOP and the U.S. (Washington Post, 03/02/15)
"SEN. JIM Inhofe (R-Okla.) chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee — and he seems determined to make that fact a national embarrassment.
Mr. Inhofe delivered a Senate floor speech about the “hysteria on global warming” .... However, one could just as easily point out that, despite some bitter temperatures on the East Coast, the Northern Hemisphere is set to break the record for the least amount of cold air ever.
All of this is really beside the point: Global warming is a long-term and worldwide trend. The fact that it’s cold at one place on the Earth at one point in time does not undermine the contention that industrial greenhouse-gas emissions are warming the planet over the course of decades.
There is no reasonable doubt that the world is heating up. ... The Republican Party should be mortified by the face of their environmental leadership."
EDITORIAL: ExxonMobil settlement must be blocked (Asbury Park Press [NJ], 03/02/15)
"The latest outrage is the apparent agreement, first reported last week in The New York Times, of the administration's decision to settle New Jersey's 11-year-old, $8.9 billion environmental damage lawsuit against ExxonMobil for a paltry $250 million.
The lawsuit, which dates back to the Gov. Jim McGreevey administration and has been pursued by three successive governors, including Gov. Christie, has sought compensation for the contamination and loss of use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters surrounding the company's former Bayway and Bayonne refineries.
What makes the news of the settlement even more disturbing is that the liability in the case had already been determined at trial."
EDITORIAL: Californians must treat drought as a way of life (San Angelo Standard Times [TX] , 03/01/15)
"Californians must step up their water conservation efforts and ensure there is adequate water for the environment.... We should take a page from Australia’s survival guide and clearly establish now that the state will provide enough water to maintain a healthy environment, the underpinning of a healthy economy."
World-Herald editorial: Bald eagle’s return a great story (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 03/01/15)
"Banning DDT, prohibiting the killing of eagles, improving water quality in many lakes and rivers, protecting nesting sites and restoring eagles to areas where they had been eliminated meant that by 2007, the bald eagle could be removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.... the rebound in Nebraska and Iowa is every bit as impressive.... The bald eagle’s return is a conservation story of the finest kind."
EDITORIAL: NC wildlife officials abandon their duties by abandoning the red wolf (News & Observer [NC], 02/28/15)
"The red wolf population is now estimated at about 100, down from 130 in 2003, a decline caused mostly by hunting.
To stop the toll on red wolves, the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of conservation groups sued the Wildlife Resources Commission seeking a ban on coyote hunts in the recovery area. Last May, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle ordered a stop to the hunts until the case could be heard. Meanwhile, the Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to work together to manage coyotes and protect the red wolves. The SELC later settled its lawsuit with an agreement that would ban night coyote hunting in the recovery area.
But rather than find a way to cull coyotes and save wolves, the Wildlife Resources Commission now wants to abandon the red wolf recovery effort.... The commission’s proposal contradicts its mission and the settlement agreement. The Southern Environmental Law Center representing groups supporting the red wolf recovery – Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Welfare Institute – has sent the commission a letter calling on the commission to rescind its resolutions and abide by its agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to promote the recovery of the red wolf.
Bringing back the red wolf is challenging, and coyotes complicate the mission. But the answer isn’t to give up and start shooting."