Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bush Administration Protects 'Threatened' Polar Bear

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) of the Department of the Interior listed polar bears as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act on May 13, 2008 due to the loss of Arctic sea ice. The FWS will now draft a recovery plan that will include assessing the population and its habitat. (News Release)

The Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned to list the polar bear in 2005 and ultimately sued the Interior Department to force the regulation. A concern of the administration is that environmental groups will use the regulation to limit carbon dioxide emissions throughout society instead of waiting for global warming legislation to pass in Congress.

Update: Reported after the enviro groups sued, now the state of Alaska will sue to challenge listing because they fear it will stop oil and gas development in polar bear habitat off the state's northern and northwestern coasts.

Update: A week later the same green groups sued the Interior Department over the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species instead of endangered and for excluding habitat protection, which could be used to fight global warming.

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