Polar Bears Are Protected? Apparently Not From Kempthorne's Catch-22

Thomas Schueneman

I applaud the decision from the Department if Interior to include the polar bear on the endangered species list – even if there’s just a little bit of a “kicking and screaming the whole way” flavor to it.

Will listing as endangered really help the polar bear?

With that said, the very headline of the press release from the DOI sounded ominously like a loophole:

Secretary Kempthorne Announces Decision to Protect Polar Bears under Endangered Species Act:
Rule will allow continuation of vital energy production in Alaska

And that’s just in the headline. It goes on from there to state that the decision will

…be accompanied by administrative guidance and a rule” (uh oh) “that defines the scope of impact my decision will have” (as in none?) “in order to protect the polar bear while limiting unintended harm to the society and economy of the United States” (take that all you big angry bears…)

While acknowledging that the polar bear is listed as a direct result of climate change, Kempthorne wanted

…to make it clear that this listing will not stop global climate change… That is why I am taking administrative and regulatory action to make certain the ESA (endangered species act) isn’t abused” (abused? Did you just have lunch with James Inhofe?) “…to make global warming polices.” (Read the full press release from the Department of Interior)

So the polar bear is listed under the Endangered Species Act – kinda. It’s listed because of it’s diminishing habitat from global warming, but through DOI “guidance” the protecting the bear under ESA does not extend to halting the very activity that further destroys the bear’s habitat and accelerates climate change.

Makes your head spin doesn’t it?

The Natural Resource Defense Council and Sierra Club have both weighed in with their own words of caution.

Tags: polar+bear+endangered+species, department+of+interior+polar+bear


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