[JURIST] In Monday's environmental law news, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) seeks comments on a proposed rule that would establish the Pine Island-Estero Bay Manatee Refuge in Lee County, Florida. The manatee is a protected species under both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The area had been protected by the State of Florida until a state circuit court judge ruled in Novemember 2002 that five of the state manatee protection zones in Florida were invalid since four of them did not meet state standards for manatee sightings and unduly interfered with the rights of Florida citizens. There have been at least 18 manatee deaths caused by boat in these areas ince 1999, including 4 since January. The FWS wants to create the federal manatee refuge because it believes there is imminent danger of additional manatee deaths in the area and do not anticipate state action that would prevent the deaths. There will be a public hearing held on January 12, 2005 in Fort Myers, Florida. Comments can be submitted until February 2, 2005 here.
In other news, Louisville Kentucky mayor Jerry Abramson has called on the US Department of Transportation to change some its policies regarding the railroads. In a letter, the mayor said that cars containing toxic chemicals should not be allowed to stay indefinitely in rail yards and by other industrial areas, and that he opposes efforts that would remove the placards designating hazardous materials from the railcars. AP has the full story.... Philippine president Arroyo has suspended logging permits throughout the country following 2 storms that have caused over a thousand deaths. The storms brought flooding, but more damage has been caused by multiple landslides believed to have been made worse due to widespread logging, legal and illegal, in the Sierra Madre mountain range. President Arroyo also called on the Congress to "amend existing environmental laws to promulgate stiffer penalties against illegal loggers and their cohorts." AFP has more.