April 1, 2009 by Margaret Giblin

CPR Urges Secretaries of Interior and Commerce to Withdraw Bush Endangered Species Regulations

CPR Member Scholar Holly Doremus, joined by Member Scholars Rob Glicksman (also a CPR Board Member), Alex Camacho, and Dan Rohlf, along with myself, today sent the Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce and Interior a letter urging them to utilize the time-limited authority that Congress gave them to withdraw one of the more controversial midnight regulations issued by the Bush Administration.  Those regulations undercut one of the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) most important protections—a requirement that federal agencies consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to be sure that actions they plan to take (for example, funding a new highway) are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of threatened and endangered species. 

The Bush consultation regulations represent the worst kind of midnight rulemaking—they are poorly considered, unjustified by any evidence, and were patently intended to impose the Bush Administration’s hostile stamp on implementation of the nation’s flagship conservation law.  Most importantly, if implemented, the Bush consultation regulations will result in weakened protections for endangered and threatened species. 

The same group of CPR Member Scholars, joined by UC Davis conservation biologist Mark Schwartz, submitted comments …

March 19, 2009 by Margaret Giblin

More than 10,000 oil and gas wells puncture the land within Pennsylvania's half-million acre Allegheny National Forest  (ANF)—more than in all the other national forests combined, according to the non-profit Allegheny Defense Project.  Back in the mid-1990s, about 100 new wells were drilled each year; today, it's about 1,300 per year.  The boom is driven by increased interest in and exploration of the Marcellus shale reservoir, a rock formation lying 5,000-8,000 feet below a large swath of Appalachia (including Pennsylvania) believed to hold trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.  Accessing the Marcellus shale was long considered prohibitively expensive, but recent advances in drilling technology and the rising price of natural gas have combined to make production profitable. 

Environmental impacts of the drilling include land disturbance from construction of roads, pipelines and wellpads.  The deeper wells required to access the …

Feb. 11, 2009 by Margaret Giblin

Both versions of the economic stimulus package – that passed by the House and by the Senate – include funding for the National Park Service.  The bill the House passed last month would allocate $1.7 billion to the National Park Service for “projects to address critical deferred maintenance needs within the National Park System, including roads, bridges and trails,” operation of the National Park System, and for “projects related to the preservation and repair of historical and cultural resources” in the parks.  The bill passed by the Senate includes $747 million for the Park Service to use for operation and construction, after $55 million for historic preservation in the parks was cut from a previous version of the bill as part of a compromise amendment. 

The discrepancy in the amount of funding will have to be revisited in conference committee, but whether the ultimate amount is $1.7 …

Feb. 6, 2009 by Margaret Giblin

One logical response to the constant news of the economic recession is cutting back on discretionary purchases and developing a household budget.  That is, if we know that times are tough and that we may encounter difficulties sustaining the lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to, we take stock of our circumstances and plan for the future.  We look at our current income and expenses, project our future income as best as we are able, and adjust future expenses in the budget to match future income.

What if, instead, in the face of all the economic indicators that tough times are ahead, we stuck our heads in the sand, continued spending as always (or even increased spending) and hoped for the best?  Most would probably agree that at best, it would seem a risky path to tread. 

And yet, that’s the path we’ve chosen to take …

Jan. 29, 2009 by Margaret Giblin

This week, there’s been good news from the Obama Administration regarding climate change policy.  California will likely get that waiver under the Clean Air Act allowing it to set stricter emissions standards for cars.  Additionally, Lisa Jackson, the new Administrator of EPA, indicated in an e-mail (subscription required) to agency employees that the agency will soon move to comply with the Supreme Court’s opinion in Massachusetts v. EPA.  In that opinion, the Court agreed with the plaintiffs’ arguments that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act.  It further directed the agency to determine whether GHGs endanger the public health and/or welfare such that they should in fact be regulated under the Act.  In a related development, Jackson reportedly (subscription required) plans to hire Georgetown University Law Professor and CPR alumna Lisa Heinzerling as her top climate counsel …

Jan. 22, 2009 by Margaret Giblin

Former President George W. Bush departed for Dallas on Tuesday, but his pervasive legacy remains here in Washington. In a prior post here on CPRblog, I wrote about one of the Bush Administration’s “midnight regulations,” which collectively stamped the most recent of the Bush imprints on public policy. In its proposed changes to the interagency consultation rule under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Bush Administration proposed to, among other things, effectively eliminate the statutory requirement that federal agencies consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to confirm their own conclusions that a planned action won’t adversely affect threatened and endangered species. CPR, led by Member Scholars Holly Doremus, Alex Camacho, Dan Rohlf and Board Member Rob Glicksman, submitted comments in opposition to the proposed changes.

After speed-reading through CPR’s comments and approximately 250 …

Jan. 15, 2009 by Margaret Giblin

President Bush’s designation of 195,000 square miles of marine monuments last week drew praise from a wide constituency—including many environmentalists, who have so often been at odds with the Bush Administration over the past eight years.  Without a doubt, President Bush’s use of the Antiquities Act to preserve the Marianas, Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll National Marine Monuments is a major victory for conservation, especially when considered in addition to his similar designation of the 140,000 square mile Papahanaumokuakea (Northern Hawaiian Islands) Marine Monument in 2006. 

When news of the Northern Hawaiian Islands designation broke, the LA Times reported that a private screening of a PBS documentary about the beauty of (and threats to) that archipelago of islands seemed to capture President Bush’s imagination.  To his credit, he followed through and acted to protect not only those areas but also …

Dec. 18, 2008 by Margaret Giblin

From a developmental standpoint, the 280 or so days between conception and birth are among the most important in a person’s entire life. During this period, pregnant women are cautioned to avoid a wide variety of exposures that can inhibit fetal organ development and growth. However, a recent report highlights the risk posed by one type of exposure against which women can’t realistically protect themselves—pollution in the air they breathe.

The list of pregnancy “don’ts” is lengthy, and with good cause. Certain types of exposures have long been definitively linked to particular outcomes in fetal health and development. Pregnant women are advised against consuming alcohol, because drinking can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. And they’re warned away from eating too much fish – at least of the variety that is likely to contain mercury, because fetal exposure to mercury can lead to damage to …

Dec. 11, 2008 by Margaret Giblin

Although it might not quite be the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster, the tale of the lowly zebra mussel has a critical mass of the ingredients needed for a horror movie – or at least a seriously disturbing documentary. They’re creatures from a different world (that is, ecosystem), they’re amazingly prolific (each female produces 1 million eggs per year), they colonize both non-living and living surfaces (including turtles, crustaceans, other mollusks, and even other members of their own species), they harm the environment and impose billions of dollars in costs, and, as Land Letter put it, they’re “impossible to eradicate using current technologies.” (Click here for pictures of the unwelcome invaders.)

Most recently, they’ve been discovered in Maryland, near the uppermost reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. First, officials confirmed that a zebra mussel had been scooped from inside a water intake pipe at the …

Dec. 1, 2008 by Margaret Giblin

The “land disposal” laws line up on the pages of U.S. history books, reminders of a bygone era when the government of a young nation was striving to find ways to encourage people to move west by giving away public lands at bargain-basement prices. The Homestead Act of 1862, for example, gave settlers title to 160-acre plots of land for just the cost of filing fees, so long as the settlers lived on the land for five years and cultivated part of it. The Desert Land Act of 1877 transferred title to 640-acre plots of land for 25¢ an acre so long as settlers could show that a good part of the land had been irrigated.


While these and other land disposal laws were repealed in 1976, when Congress enacted the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), one holdover from those pioneer days remains on …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
April 1, 2009

CPR Urges Secretaries of Interior and Commerce to Withdraw Bush Endangered Species Regulations

March 19, 2009

Longstanding Dispute Brought to the Surface in Allegheny National Forest

Feb. 11, 2009

Parks Funding in Stimulus Bill: Good for Parks and for the Economy

Feb. 6, 2009

The Scalpel or the Hatchet? Applying Common-Sense Planning to Water Management

Jan. 29, 2009

Studies Highlight Need for Natural Resource Adaptation Measures

Jan. 22, 2009

Update: Final Endangered Species Rule May Itself Be Endangered

Jan. 15, 2009

Bush's Blue Legacy Remains Murky