Editorials and Opinion
EDITORIAL: Court challenge on coal controls, Obama’s environmental policies (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 03/24/15)
"At first glance a Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday focuses on how far a federal agency can go in capping harmful emissions from coal-burning power plants. But it’s also a major test of one of President Obama’s biggest legacies: his environmental policies on energy use and climate change.... This argument has failed in lower court cases, and should rightly lose again. The agency pegs the social costs at $37 billion or more in shortened lives and medical care linked to asthma and other ailments. ... The court, more than Congress, can play a key role in deciding this country’s energy future."
PD Editorial: Some needed candor on climate change (Press Democrat [CA] , 03/24/15)
"[C]limate policy must be at or near the top of the agenda.
There may be room to debate how much human activities are driving rising temperatures, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, unusual weather patterns and other signs of climate change. But too many policymakers, most though not all of them Republicans, deny clear evidence of climate change, by whatever cause, or dodge the issue altogether by saying they aren’t scientists."
EDITORIAL: Manatees still warrant protections (Tampa Tribune [FL] , 03/23/15)
"The record number of manatees observed during the annual manatee count this year is no cause to diminish protections for the gentle seagoing mammal.... The counts are notoriously unreliable, with the weather determining how many manatees are spotted.... an unseasonably cold winter or a widespread red tide outbreak can quickly change the manatee’s prospects. ... So federal and state officials should be dubious about any attempt to slash manatee protections."
Wisconsin Voter ID Reminds Us of the Importance of Circuit Courts (People For blog, 03/23/15)
"When the entire circuit was asked to review the panel decision, they split 5-5, just one vote short of preventing those rules from going into effect. One judge could have really made a difference. And it just so happens that Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has blocked efforts to fill a longtime vacancy on that court for more than four years, since the day he took office after the 2010 elections. Make no mistake: Johnson and his fellow Republicans preventing President Obama from putting judges on the bench know full well how important the federal courts are, especially the circuit courts.
In fact, the Seventh Circuit is not the only one with a long-unfilled vacancy. Republican senators from Texas, Kentucky, and Alabama have also been blocking President Obama's efforts to nominate highly qualified jurists to fill longtime vacancies on the Fifth, Sixth, and Eleventh Circuits."
EDITORIAL: Clean Air Act and Dirty Coal at the Supreme Court (New York Times, 03/23/15)
"The name of the law at issue before the Supreme Court on Wednesday is the Clean Air Act. It is not the Coal Industry Protection Act, despite what that industry’s advocates seem to want the justices to believe.... The Supreme Court has upheld the E.P.A.’s authority to carry out that law’s purpose with broad discretion. There is no reason to upset that deliberate balance, or unreasonably limit the agency’s authority, now."
Editorial: The return of the Bald Eagle (Record Journal [CT], 03/23/15)
"Connecticut’s bald eagles are showing signs of adaptability ... If we take care of the Quinnipiac, perhaps their numbers will increase."
EDITORIAL: Open secret; Texas is not the focus of the state's junior senator. (Houston Chronicle, 03/23/15)
"Trade, NASA, hurricane protection, immigration, education, energy policy, federal judgeships and a host of other issues important to Texans will have, at best, the senator's distracted attention.... we look to his senior colleague, John Cornyn, to address Texas-related needs."
Climate change is not just a bunch of hot air: Editorial (Republican [Springfield, MA], 03/23/15)
"If climate change opponents are responsible, they will engage in that debate. But first, they should stop misrepresenting the issue by pretending that it's only about high temperatures, and not about a variety of disturbing patterns that cannot be ignored forever."
EDITORIAL: Florida's 'head in sand' position on climate change could be costly (Herald [Bradenton, FL] , 03/21/15)
"Climate change deniers: There's a new wrinkle to Gov. Rick "I am not a scientist" Scott's refusal to acknowledge climate change -- fresh on the heels of his administration's unwritten policy banning the mere mention of the phrase and others. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is cracking down on state governments that deny man-made climate change by withholding disaster preparedness funds.
Only states that adopt hazard mitigation plans that deal with climate risks will receive those dollars. Think flooding in South Florida and elsewhere as ocean levels rise as well as other damaging impacts.... Gov. Scott, embrace the evidence, not the politics."
EDITORIAL: Struggling bees need allies beyond the almond industry (Fresno Bee [CA] , 03/21/15)
"Even amid crops that, unlike corn and soy, require bees for pollination, herbicides are wiping out the milkweed, mustard and other wild food that pollinators rely on. Meanwhile, systemic pesticides engineered into plants’ very seeds appear to be sickening bees and encouraging parasites and diseases.
Bees are far from the only casualty; the situation has brought Monarch butterflies close to endangered species status.... The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the safety of neonicotinoid pesticides, which appear to be impairing bee health"
EDITORIAL: More manatees at our shores; Thumbs up (Florida Today, 03/20/15)
"Given that 140 manatees have died in the Indian River Lagoon since 2012, for undetermined reasons, this is encouraging news. These marvelous marine mammals are welcomed here, whatever the weather."
EDITORIAL: Looking up: Math works for manatees (Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/19/15)
"State and Central Florida governments, including Volusia County, have responded to the Indian River Lagoon crisis by crafting new environmental policies designed to reduce the amount of chemicals flushed into area waterways and springs through stormwater runoff. A healthier lagoon and springs can only help the manatee population."
Marin IJ Editorial: Expansion of marine sanctuaries a victory for the environment (Marin Independent Journal [CA], 03/19/15)
"Oil and gas exploration will now be banned not just off the Marin coast, in an area encompassing the Farallon Islands, but now also north along Sonoma and Mendocino counties’ coastlines to just above Point Arena.
That protects a rich feeding area for 25 threatened and endangered species, including blue whales and humpback whales, northern fur seals and leatherback turtles. The area is home to a third of the world’s whales and dolphins, more than 163 species of birds and more than 300 species of fish."
The Christie-Exxon relationship may be toxic for the rest of us | Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 03/19/15)
"Gov. Christie took a victory lap over his Bayway cleanup deal with Exxon last week ... He won that negotiation, he insists, because $225 million extracted from Exxon over its tar-dumping party ... But here's what he doesn't tell you: Exxon has been obligated to clean the area since a consent order in 1991, but the real goal of the $8.9 billion lawsuit was the full-scale restoration of the 1,500 acres of wetlands contaminated by 4,000 tons of tar - which cannot be restored for decades, if at all.... since 1997, its strategy is spelled out in a single phrase: "The key to lowering costs is to change the rules of the game," it reads.
The best way to achieve this is to have an ally in the state house. In this case, it was a governor who surrendered to the will of campaign contributors, sold out his people, and had the gall to call it victory."
End wait for strong plan to protect water quality: Editorial (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 03/18/15)
"Discharges of water polluted by fertilizer and urban runoff from Lake Okeechobee have spawned toxic algae blooms in other waterways, with disastrous consequences. In 2013, scores of manatees and dolphins and hundreds of pelicans died in the Indian River Lagoon.... The Legislature needs to pass a strong bill — this year — to improve water quality. Floridians have waited too long."
Down one judge and deserving another (NC Policy Watch, 03/18/15)
"The federal courts in eastern North Carolina have been operating under a state of judicial emergency for years now, though you wouldn’t know it given the lack of a sense of urgency exhibited by the state’s United States senators.
Down a judge since December 2005, the courts in this largely rural part of the state have managed one of the heavier district caseloads in the country ... The Eastern District has a good case for an additional judgeship, given caseload numbers already on the higher end, even if the vacancy is filled."
EDITORIAL: The Record: No 'green' in Trenton (Record [NJ] , 03/18/15)
"The state's pending settlement with Exxon would award New Jersey $225 million, a far cry from the $8.9 billion it sought from the company for polluting acres of wetlands near its refineries in Bayonne and Linden. No one gets all that they seek in lawsuits, but to settle for $225 million — less than 3 percent of the initial demand — would be a very bad deal for New Jersey."
Editorial: Nature's best is in our own backyard (Victoria Advocate [TX], 03/18/15)
"In a USA Today reader's choice poll, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is among 20 contenders in the running to be named the Best National Wildlife Refuge in the country.... Today, visitors from throughout the world swoop into the Crossroads to see one of the refuge's focal points - the whooping crane.
People can also visit Matagorda Island, which is part of the wildlife refuge and showcases Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles and other species - both endangered and not.... It's not often we can say we have one of the nation's best, so let's embrace that."
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: 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: 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: 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."
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: 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."