Biodiversity & Species

Yes, It’s That Time of Year Again

If you read Legal Planet, you know why the work we do matters.

Like everyone else, I’m sure you find fundraising appeals annoying. That’s why we only do them twice a year.  But there couldn’t be a more important time for the work we do, given the urgency of the climate crisis and the ongoing policy disaster in D.C. Yes, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and …

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Deja Vu All Over Again

There’s a new GOP Platform, same as the old one.

It appears that the GOP won’t have a new platform this year. Instead, they’re going to stick with their 2016 platform. You could see that as steadfastness or a lack of new ideas. In the environmental arena, 2016 is still where the GOP is stuck today, celebrating fossil fuels and rejecting climate action. Here are …

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Surprise! Major Land Conservation Bill Poised to Pass Congress

Republican-Led Senate Prepared to Preserve Public Lands–and Political Careers?

Over the past decade, we’ve become resigned to the sad fact of congressional gridlock: a hopelessly partisan and paralyzed Congress, seemingly unable to pass major legislation on the environmental protection, natural resource conservation or, indeed, any number of other policy fronts. So it has to come as a  shock to most observers that this week …

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Trump’s Latest Deregulatory Ploy: Emergency Waivers

Shaky legal authority, poor analysis, dubious benefits. What else is new?

In an Executive Order issued last Thursday, Trump told agencies to use emergency waivers to avoid environmental safeguards. The order is legally shaky and unlikely to accomplish much.  Still, it provided a nice photo op. Maybe he should have signed it in front of a church. I’ll talk later about the specifics, but first I’d …

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(Still More) Bad News on the Doorstep

New Reports Document Accelerating Wildlife Extinctions, Global Deforestation Trends

While public attention in recent weeks and months has understandably focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice shockwaves triggered by George Floyd’s tragic death, another disaster continues apace. This week the New York Times published two alarming stories documenting the accelerating decline of our global environment.  The first, entitled “Extinctions Are Accelerating, Threatening …

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Top 10 Worst Environmental Decisions in California’s History

Ranking the lost landscapes and environmental features

California has a paradoxical history with its environment. On one hand, the state boasts incredible natural beauty, along with a government that is an internationally recognized leader for strong environmental policies. But the state’s residents have also caused severe environmental destruction, particularly in the late nineteenth century — some of which helped spur the mobilization …

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Deferred Planetary Maintenance

It’s easy to put off long-term problems when there’s a crisis.  Much too easy, actually.

Long-term problems get short shrift in a crisis. That’s true of infrastructure repair; it’s also true of climate change.  Like deferred maintenance, climate change just gets bigger the longer it’s put off. I often see the fruits of deferred maintenance on the Berkeley campus. Building conditions are a huge problem at Berkeley. Whenever there’s a …

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How the Coronavirus is (Not) Like Climate Change

The two have some informative parallels, although some observers draw the wrong conclusions

The coronavirus dominates the news and much of our minds. Here at Legal Planet, we have written about the coronavirus and presidential powers, disaster declarations, fossil fuel production, decision-making under uncertainty, inequality, and cities. I will join the party and consider what are the parallels and differences between the coronavirus crisis and anthropogenic climate change, …

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Climate Change Threatens Tropical Fish Stocks. How Should Countries Respond?

As climate change warms the world’s oceans, marine scientists have paid special attention to how this will influence the movement of fish. Recent articles have shown that fish stocks are migrating toward colder waters in the poles. In a piece published yesterday in Nature Sustainability, a group of economists, marine scientists, and I examined for the first …

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Yes, there’s a difference between “endangered” and “threatened” species

Federal district court tells FWS its discretion to choose the less protected designation has limits

A recent ruling from the federal District Court in DC provides an important  lesson that the US Fish and Wildlife Service would do well to heed: the agency has limited discretion to find that species are threatened rather than endangered. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), species can be listed as either endangered (“in danger …

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