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Polar bears ‘threatened’ but won’t get protection May 15, 2008

Posted by Lumpmoose in environment.
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According to a recent CNN article, polar bears are now listed as a threatened species according to the Endangered Species Act. This decision was only arrived grudgingly after being forced by a federal court order. Quote of the day:

Listing the polar bear as threatened can reduce avoidable losses of polar bears. But it should not open the door to use of the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants, and other sources,” said [Secretary of the Interior Dirk] Kempthorne. “That would be a wholly inappropriate use of the ESA law. The ESA is not the right tool to set U.S. climate policy.”

They were resistant to list polar bears as threatened for so many months because they may be the first species to die off solely due to the effects of global warming–the decline of their natural habitat of arctic sea ice. The problem for the Bush administration is that the Endangered Species Act says that “an action [that] is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat must include a discussion of any ‘reasonable or prudent alternatives’ which FWS or NMFS believes would avoid the jeopardy, destruction, or adverse modification.” Or as Wikipedia puts it “Federal agencies are prohibited from authorizing, funding or carrying out actions that ‘destroy or adversely modify’ critical habitats”. This would obviously cause problems for an oil-happy government that refuses to admit global warming causes any ill effects on the environment.

Instead we get another example of the infamous Bush scientists at work. They’ll say polar bears are threatened but brazenly state right in the decision that they shouldn’t get any of the useful protections that are mandated by the ESA.