Editorials and Opinion
A century’s worth of difference in saving wildlife (Tampa Tribune [FL] , 09/04/14)
by Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife: "Though the ESA came too late to protect the passenger pigeon and Martha, it has effectively shielded thousands of species from their same fate."
Editorial: Dirty water politics (Ocala Star Banner [FL] , 09/04/14)
"The idea originally was to bring clarity to what waters and wetlands fall under Environmental Protection Agency purview, as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress. But so far, the only thing that is clear is that the opposition, led by Congressman Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, are more concerned about protecting big business and agriculture interests than protecting our state's steadily deteriorating rivers, lakes and springs. Southerland has introduced a bill in Congress, disingenuously named the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act," or H.R. 5078, that would virtually strip the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of any authority over Florida waterways and wetlands. ... The state's recent track record on water — slashed water-management budgets, relaxed water standards, lax enforcement and declining water quality and supply — hardly gives us reason to trust Florida's leaders to do right by our wetlands and waterways."
‘Obamacare’ Challengers Lose Again (New Bedford Standard Times [MA] , 09/04/14)
JESSE WEGMAN, Editorial Page Editor's Blog: "On Thursday morning, as almost everyone predicted it would, the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., voted to toss out a three-judge panel’s ruling upholding the latest attempt to kill “Obamacare.” ...a key reason for the current makeup of the D.C. appeals court is the Senate’s reform of the filibuster process last fall, which was triggered by Republicans’ refusal to allow a vote on any of President Obama’s three nominees to that court. After the reform, all three nominees were confirmed.
If anyone was wondering what the hue and cry over filibuster reform was really about in practice, the Halbig case is Exhibit A."
Editorial: Don't weaken laws to protect Florida waters (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 09/03/14)
"The proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers would establish more clearly which waters deserve protection under the 1972 Clean Water Act. Two U.S. Supreme Court opinions have for the past decade clouded the issue of whether the federal law applies only to navigable waters. ... The federal rule merely clarifies what streams and wetlands would be protected.... Florida Republicans used the same tactic of misinformation several years ago on behalf of the state's biggest polluters to fight the federal government over clean water standards. They had the wrong allegiance then and they have the wrong allegiance now. Florida's congressional delegation should be the last ones urging Congress to weaken a law that protects some of this state's most precious resources."
[EDITORIAL] Environmental Concerns: Manatee Must Keep Its Status (Ledger [Lakeland, FL], 09/03/14)
"Powell's summary: Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a "no" to "downlisting" — a move to threatened status — at present. If threats to manatees have "increased and broadened," changing the classification not only defies science but good judgment."
Jamie Rappaport Clark: Saving wildlife (Tallahassee Democrat [FL] , 09/03/14)
"Without a strong Endangered Species Act, the decline of many species would accelerate, until they too vanished, even ones so numerous that they darken the sun and the face of the earth."
EDITORIAL: Dead zone shows Bay's pollution problems (Virginian-Pilot, 09/03/14)
"After 30 years of trying and failing to do something about such problems, the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in to enforce a pollution diet on states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed....the thought of farmers and residents having to clean up their operations sparked a lawsuit from the American Farm Bureau Federation, homebuilders, chicken and pork growers and fertilizer makers. They've been joined by 21 states and several dozen members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Robert Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith and Robert Hurt, all from Virginia. Before the courts could hear the case, winter and spring rains this year washed a substantial amount of nitrogen and phosphorous off the bay's upstream farms and neighborhoods, and summer warmth made conditions just right for algae to grow in the Chesapeake. And, once again, it became clear that the Farm Bureau, the Dirty 21, and several dozen misguided lawmakers are on the wrong side of science, the environment and the Chesapeake Bay."
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."
Editorial: Endangered species (Gainesville Sun [FL], 09/02/14)
"Despite the slow and very slight increase in the number of manatees during the past 50 years, threats to survival have increased. ... The mortality numbers are a clear indication that threats to the species have not been lessened, and in fact have increased and broadened. Clearly, the science that analyzes the existing and emerging threats indicates a “no” to a move to threatened status at this time."
Now-extinct passenger pigeon still teaches the importance of stewardship and conservation: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH], 09/02/14)
"And this year, marking the centennial of her death, advocates hope to galvanize renewed attention to the need to broaden understanding about other North American species threatened with extinction, from bats and freshwater mussels to Massasauga rattlesnakes, which are endangered in Ohio.
More than 190 museums, zoos, historical societies, universities, libraries and other organizations around the country -- including 19 in Ohio -- are involved in "Project Passenger Pigeon" to raise awareness about "lessons from the past for a sustainable future" and to involve more people in saving other species from extinction. It's an important and worthy effort."
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."
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."
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: 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: 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."
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."