ESA in the news: Happy Earth Day (?)
Media reports continue to warn of the steady march of climate change, with its alteration of habitat, and the threat of species extirpation or extinction. RedOrbit noted the new book by University of California biologist Anthony Barnosky, "Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming," wondering whether wilderness can remain natural. ENN.com discussed climate change and the isolation of Rocky Mountain butterflies, David Suzuki commented that "Caring for caribou is a matter of urgency," and LiveScience.com writes about IPCC warnings of Earth's precarious future,
Then again, don't tell the wolves that their habitat is contracting. According to the Oregon-based News-Review, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that Oregon has wolves, "but we’re still waiting to see if they persist and if we will ever have a high number of wolves in the state.” But elsewhere, like Montana, wolves still get shot, notes the Clark Fork Chronicle.
Speaking of shooting wolves, the same "people-first" logic that some western voices have applied to wolves was recently resurrected in a new direction this week. Don't bother with the details of the Endangered Species Act when where are rattlesnakes involved, said George Frasher in the Beauregard Daily News. "In the conflict between man and rattlesnakes, the eventual loser is the snake. That is the law of nature, which supercedes any law that can be enacted in any legislature." But others disagree. A Duluth editorial said Don’t weaken fish and wildlife’s ‘bill of rights’, and Bart King argued in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that we can’t afford to abuse Earth, or laws like the ESA, otherwise "the idea of celebrating Earth Day will seem like a cruel joke."
Despite Earth Day, the Bush administration's efforts last minute regulations altering the ESA consultation process remain on the books, Joe Scott reminded readers in the Seattle Times, "Salazar has until May 9 to undo one of Bush's 11th-hour and more regressive policies — one that would gut America's signature environmental law and the strongest tool we have to protect and restore our majestic plant and wildlife heritage." Jake Richardson echoed the sentiments at PlanetSave.com, but relax, says Van Ness Feldman. The Obama Administration is actively reviewing the ESA rule and on Monday, March 23, a California federal district court judge overseeing court challenges to the section 7 consultation rule "granted a 60-day stay in that proceeding at the request of the federal agencies. In their stay request, the federal agencies represented that the Obama Administration is examining and reconsidering the rule as directed by a March 3, 2009 presidential memorandum. Further, the federal agencies noted that, as a result of Section 429 of the recently enacted omnibus appropriations bill (Pub. L. No. 111-8), the section 7 consultation rule may be withdrawn without following notice and comment rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act, if such action is taken no later than May 10, 2009." A Washington Post story and an AP story available in the Albany Times Union offered similar insights.
As for the latest wave of lawsuits, the AP reports that WildEarth Guardians sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because it "failed to act on a petition seeking protection for two rare plants, a jackrabbit and a salamander found in the Southwest." The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit, notes a San Diego paper, to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide that protection for the Hermes copper butterfly by declaring it a threatened or endangered species. And the Jackson Hole News and Flathead Beacon report that more wolf litigation is expected. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Delta litigation seems like it will never end. Congressmen want more water for California farmers, says the Mercury News, and indybay.org notes that local Delta farmers are trying to stop the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, calling it "a thinly disguised process to build a peripheral canal and increase water exports out of the California Delta."
Oh, yeah, Happy Earth Day.
Earth Day 2009 poster, designed by Jan Martin Will, from the Earth Day Network.