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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Defenders of Wildlife

Editorials and Opinion


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EDITORIAL: Court ruling on drifting air pollution makes sense (Beaumont Enterprise [TX], 04/30/14)
"Logic and laws don't always mix, but they did this week in a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It ruled that the source of air pollution can be held responsible even if its smog or soot blows far away across state lines."

Editorial: Keeping Track: Air Pollution; A Limit on Out-of-State Soot (New York Times, 04/29/14)
"In a victory for clean air, the Supreme Court on Tuesday voted 6-to-2 to uphold the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to find the most cost-effective way of reducing harmful air pollution that crosses state lines.... it isn’t technologically possible to determine exactly how much pollution each state contributes to any other state. ...Given this reality, and the broad language of the Clean Air Act, the court was right to defer to the agency’s expertise to manage a hugely complex national problem, and to protect human health and the environment at the lowest cost."

Will Marco Rubio Let His Colleagues Delay Four Florida Judicial Nominees? (People For blog, 04/25/14)
"The situation in Florida is so dire that even if every vacancy were to be filled tomorrow, it would not be enough to take care of the courts' growing workloads. In fact, the Judicial Conference has requested a number of new judgeships for the state"

Editorial: Brewer vetoes show leadership down the middle (Arizona Daily Sun, 04/24/14)
"As we have noted before, though, much of the anti-federalist rhetoric coming from the far right has more to do with specific policies they oppose, not uncompensated costs or federal meddling. Arizona can hardly complain about the federal dams and water projects on which the state was built, and it continues to get back in federal aid far more than its residents and businesses pay into the federal treasury in taxes. So when it comes to giving ranchers permission to kill wolves or forcing the federal government to pony up for a cattle compensation fund to be administered by the state, Brewer got to the point in her veto message: Just because lawmakers want to allow endangered wolves to be killed on federal lands doesn’t give them the power to override federal law — it’s an expensive lawsuit waiting to happen."

Editorial: Gov. Brewer's pen is mightier than bad bills; Our View: Gov. Jan Brewer's vetoes are in our best interests (Arizona Republic, 04/23/14)
"The bills squashed were more about ideological overkill than any attempt at good policy making. … A bill that would have let ranchers kill endangered Mexican gray wolves by putting them in the same legal category as mountain lions and bears was all about some ranchers' continued opposition to a federal reintroduction effort under the Endangered Species Act. Brewer's veto letter on SB 1211 said the state "simply does not have the power" to override federal protections for wolves. This bill was about putting a finger in Uncle Sam's eye. It was not necessary."

Readers forum: Keep judicial qualification top priority (Tulsa World [OK] , 04/23/14)
Op-Ed by Rich Fisher, general manager of Public Radio Tulsa, served on Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission from 2009-2011: "But imagine a day under this proposed arrangement with divided government, with one party able to control a majority of appointments and the other in the Governor's Mansion. Do you think that would be political, much? One quick look at the federal judiciary and its dozens of vacancies, and dozens of road-blocked nominees, as well as a sampling of the rhetoric surrounding any Supreme Court appointment should put that issue to rest."

Editorial: Chesapeake Bay needs the EPA (Virginian-Pilot, 04/21/14)
"Attorney General Mark Herring's brief supporting Chesapeake Bay cleanup represents the kind of common sense Virginians hope to see from the state's lawyer. Yet indiscriminate railing against Washington regulation - including rules designed to clean up the long-beleaguered bay - is what Virginians customarily see from a few of their Washington lawmakers."

Editorial: Running Out of Time (New York Times, 04/21/14)
"Next year, in December, delegates from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to take another shot at completing a new global treaty on climate change. ... if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report is to be taken seriously, as it should be, the Paris meeting may well be the world’s last, best chance to get a grip on a problem that, absent urgent action over the next decade, could spin out of control."

Editorial: The neo-Nazi and the Second Amendment Preservation Act (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 04/21/14)
"First, the law seeks to nullify “all federal acts” related to gun regulation “past, present and future.” Of course, such a move would violate clear rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court that say federal laws on such matters supersede state laws because of the Constitution’s “supremacy clause.”...Never mind that this bill, like last year’s, will be vetoed. And never mind that even if lawmakers were to override a veto, that it would be tossed out by a court. It’s important to realize exactly what lawmakers think is a good idea."

Mercury News editorial: Feinstein bill risks further damage to Delta (San Jose Mercury News [CA] , 04/21/14)
"House Republicans are demanding that any drought legislation roll back crucial environmental protections and end the San Joaquin River restoration project. They act as if these rules are all about helping fish, but keeping the river system healthy is critical for people who rely on its water."

Editorial: Wisconsin needs ambitious clean energy goal (Wisconsin State Journal, 04/20/14)
"The paramount environmental issue this Earth Day, which arrives Tuesday, is climate change. Wisconsin, our nation and the world need solid steps forward to stem the worst impacts of rising temperatures."

EDITORIAL: Our View: Time for Republicans to Get Real (Times-News [ID] , 04/20/14)
"[W]e applaud Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, who last week refused to ink their names to the state Republican platform.... Well, would you sign your name — essentially pledging your support — to a document that calls for the resurrection of the gold standard, stripping voters of the right to elect U.S. senators by repealing the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and spouts outright disdain for the Supremacy Clause?"

Editorial board: Join energy industries and admit climate change exists (Casper Star Tribune [WY] , 04/20/14)
"Somehow, teaching facts has become controversial. That’s really the level to which some in Wyoming have sunk. Some legislators, residents and members of the state Board of Education think science teachers shouldn’t tell students the truth about climate change because, they say, it’ll reflect poorly on the state’s major industries. However, one important group seems to have little interest in pretending nothing is happening, and that’s the major industries themselves. Their actions show they’re well aware that what they do affects the environment, and they are preparing to deal with it. These companies – energy giants like BP, Shell and ExxonMobil among them -- realize the Earth is changing and are basing multi-decade projections and business decisions on the expectation of climate change."

Editorial: Fighting pollution from coal (Daily Review [Towanda, PA], 04/18/14)
"Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a new Environmental Protection Agency rule that, finally, will attack the worst pollution generated by coal-fired plants."

Editorial: Rep. Matt Shea should know better than to support lawbreaking Nevada rancher (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 04/18/14)
"Defiant rancher Cliven Bundy’s protest against paying grazing fees has become a cause celebre among people, like Shea, who believe the states can nullify federal laws they believe to be unconstitutional. This doctrine of nullification has been drubbed in the courts....Western ranchers wanted the grazing law, because they were losing their feedlots to overgrazing. With a regulatory scheme in place, vegetation has been reborn and sustained. Grazing fees help manage the land, and ranchers help to conserve it....This land isn’t their land. Public grazing is a privilege, not a right."

Editorial: The high cost of climate change denial (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 04/18/14)
"Prolonged droughts. Melting ice caps. Heat waves and deep freezes. Rising oceans. Increased flooding. Endangered species going extinct. Expect more of this and then some — a threatened global food supply, for example — if climate change is left unchecked.... Here in Texas, research predicts rising sea levels that will cause environmental havoc through flooding, salinity and erosion... Many of Texas' most prominent leaders have been particularly shortsighted on climate change."

Senate Plays Politics With Judicial Nominations (Newsmax, 04/18/14)
Susan Estrich column: "With luck, Michelle Friedland, a highly qualified appointee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, will be confirmed when the Senate returns from its two-week recess on April 28. Actually, if the Senate were comprised of grown-ups who work for us, instead of grown-ups who act like children, she would have been confirmed before the recess, but that's not the way things are going in the Senate."

Editorial: Take lead on climate issues, governor (Democrat and Chronicle [NY] , 04/17/14)
"Cuomo should take a high-profile role in making the case to recalcitrant politicians and business interests. Failure to act will ultimately be more costly in terms of dollars for locally vital industries like agriculture and public safety."

Editorial: OUR VIEW: What took so long? (Daily Courier [Forest City, NC], 04/17/14)
"The governor’s proposal plans to focus on increasing pond and dam safety around coal ash, protecting drinking water and groundwater quality along with the closure or conversion of the coal ash pits located around the state....The fact of the matter is the state turned a blind eye to the problems with coal ash and it wasn’t until a significant spill hit the pages of newspapers around the country that they started to take notice."

Editorial: Tackle climate change locally and globally, too (Arizona Daily Sun, 04/17/14)
"But as others have noted, climate change is like the frog dropped into the pot of water that is slowly brought to boil: We’re getting hotter, but not hot enough to want to reach over and turn down the heat. It is now the Earth’s single most pressing issue, one that goes beyond mere sustainability to survivability."

Editorial: Our view: Calling out long-distance critics (Roanoke Times [VA], 04/17/14)
"Did Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty blush when he signed onto a lawsuit suggesting that the Environmental Protection Agency is overreaching, or might one day do so, by working with states to clean up the Chesapeake Bay? It takes audacity to nitpick a project more than 3,000 miles away. And the arguments by Geraghty and other attorneys general are even more of a legal stretch....Virginia is one of six states working together to restore the bay's health by 2025 through limits on wastewater pollution and fertilizer runoff. But 21 attorneys general are challenging the bay cleanup in federal court. ...Self-appointed critics of the cleanup are "recasting cooperation as coercion," Herring writes, but as an interstate body of water, the bay needs all affected states and federal officials "working together to protect a regional and national treasure.""

Editorial: Progress on Long Island Sound rebound (Newsday [NY], 04/17/14)
"Climate change has increased the water temperature slightly, which also reduces oxygen. That makes nitrogen removal all the more important"

Protecting Midwestern streams and wetlands under a proposed rule (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 04/17/14)
Karl Brooks, administrator for U.S. EPA Region 7: "For the past 15 years, two complex court decisions muddled the law and we lost a clear understanding of which waters are protected, and which aren’t. Working jointly with the Army Corps of Engineers, we’re releasing a proposed rule that clarifies which waters are protected by the law."

Editorial: Hot? Thirsty? Blame climate change; Our View: It's time to move beyond denial and become part of the solution (Arizona Republic, 04/17/14)
"Arizona faces significant threats from climate change. That gives us a big stake in moving beyond denial and into productive problem-solving."

Editorial: Comply with mercury rule (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA] , 04/17/14)
"Part of the reason that coal-generated electricity has been so cheap for so long is that the government never has assessed a cost on the industry for the horrendous air pollution that it creates. ... Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a new Environmental Protection Agency rule that, finally, will attack the worst pollution generated by coal-fired plants. The court ruled that the EPA's first rule on toxic emissions, including mercury, arsenic and acidic gases, is "substantively and procedurally valid." ... Objecting states and the industry should forgo appeals and comply with the rule."

Editorial: Help, don’t hurt, the birds (Daily Iberian [New Iberia, LA], 04/17/14)
"The whooping cranes are an endangered species. They have a place in Louisiana’s landscape just as many other species of animals. Just as humans were a contributing factor to its disappearance, so too will humans need to be a contributing factor to its return and repopulate here."

Editorial: Dianne Feinstein’s water bill is an overreach (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/17/14)
"One provision would lock in a specific inflow-export ratio to allow more water transfers to contractors south of the Delta from April 1 through May 31, regardless of water availability. This, of course, is the time that salmon and steelhead are migrating to the ocean. Feinstein should fix this provision by allowing agency experts to change the ratio depending on real-time water availability. The other provision talks about complying with endangered species law for some fish, but not for salmon and steelhead, which are on their way to extinction. Feinstein has said her goal is to protect fisheries. She should make that clear in the legislation. People whose livelihoods depend on salmon fisheries have been hurt by drought as much as Westside growers. In the past, Feinstein has said it is important to avoid seeking “gains for certain water users at the expense of others” or abandoning “fundamental state and federal environmental laws.” To make actions match words, she should fix the two provisions."

Senate Should Quickly Confirm Circuit Nominees, Like in 2006 Midterm Year (People For blog, 04/16/14)
"Because Republicans are now filibustering every judicial nominee and generally requiring hours of needless "post-cloture debate" before an actual confirmation vote can be held, it has been harder than ever to "clear the calendar" (which is Senate lingo for "hold confirmation votes on all the nominees who have been approved by the Judiciary Committee and are pending on the Senate floor"). Among the 31 nominees left hanging when the Senate took off for its spring recess last week are six circuit court nominees. Five of the six were nominated last year ... In 2006, at this point in George W. Bush's presidency, the Senate confirmed eight circuit court nominees between April and September (plus a ninth during the lame duck session). Most of them had not even been nominated at this point in 2006"