Biodiversity & Species

Is the Endangered Species Act a success?

Why the number of listed species that are no longer endangered is not a good measure of the Act’s success

The Republican-controlled Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings a couple of weeks ago on “reforming” the Endangered Species Act.  (Coverage here and here, second link behind a paywall.)  An important theme of the hearing was arguments by Republican Senators that the ESA has failed because only a small fraction of species listed for […]

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Public Lands Watch: House Joint Resolution 69

House passes resolution to nullify regulation restricting hunting on Alaska National Wildlife Refuges

Update: The Senate just passed S.J.R. 69. The House voted last week to pass House Joint Resolution 69. The resolution disapproves of the Fish & Wildlife Service rule, “Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska,” which was finalized on August 5, 2016. The resolution uses the […]

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The Ninth Circuit’s Top Environmental Law Decisions of 2016

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Climate Change, Endangered Species Act, NEPA, Constitutional Challenges Dominate Court of Appeals’ Docket

In 2016, at least, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was the most important and influential court in the nation when it comes to environmental law.  That’s true for two reasons: first, the U.S. Supreme Court only issued one significant environmental law decision last year, in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes […]

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Yes, there’s some actual good environmental news this week

An illustration of how potential conflicts make ocean planning valuable. Credit: NOAA

Approval of regional ocean management plans, California planning for gray wolf return provide grounds for hope

It’s not exactly been the best of weeks for those of us committed to environmental protection, and it doesn’t look like the best of years coming up. But there is some good news, even in these difficult times. Two items in particular have helped lift the gloom for me this week. First, the National Ocean […]

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California’s internecine water war

California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer

Dianne Feinstein versus Barbara Boxer; maximizing water deliveries versus protecting the environment

If you thought California was immune to the season of political craziness, think again. California Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were elected to the Senate together in 1992. They are usually on the same side, but not always. Water is one of the issues on which they often part company. Feinstein is a water […]

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Searching for Votes in the Senate

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Q: Can the Dems scrounge up the votes to block anti-environment actions? A: Maybe.

Paul Ryan and Donald Trump have vowed to roll back many environmental protections.  The Senate seems to be the one barrier against anti-environmental moves by Congress.  How strong is that barrier? The answer depends in part on whether the filibuster option remains open. If the filibuster rule remains intact, the Democrats’ 48 votes in the Senate […]

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Climate Science Takes Win in Effort to Save Bearded Seal

Photo Credit: NOAA

Ninth Circuit upholds NMFS’s reliance on climate projections to 2095 in decision to list Pacific bearded seal as threatened under ESA

Climate change is expected to wipe out critical habitat of the Pacific bearded seal by 2095.  This projection, based on IPCC climate data and models, justifies listing the Beringia distinct population segment of the bearded seal as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, according to a recent Ninth Circuit opinion in Alaska Oil and Gas […]

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Obama’s Remarkable Environmental Achievements

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When you look at the whole of his legacy, it’s a stunning record.

When he leaves office in January, President Obama will have compiled a remarkable record of environmental achievements. The record spans everything from climate change to endangered species and ocean protection. We can only hope that next Tuesday’s election doesn’t undo many of these gains. Here is a list, in no particular order, of twenty of […]

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The Steadily-Dying Sierra Nevadas

Dying trees pepper the Yosemite landscape.

Drought, Bark Beetle Infestation, Climate Change Imperil Sierra Pine Forests

Like over 600 other environmental lawyers, professors, law students and regulators, I attended the 25th annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite last weekend.  As always, the Conference–sponsored by the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Section–was a big success, filled with inspirational speakers and thought-provoking panels. But the major topic of conversation–during the Conference proceedings, in […]

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