Thursday, May 22, 2008

Alaska Will Sue U.S. to Stop Polar Bear Listing

The state of Alaska says it will sue the Bush Administration to prevent the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species.

The announcement by Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said that Alaska will file the lawsuit in the federal district court in Washington, D.C.

"We believe that the listing was unwarranted and that it's unprecedented to list a currently healthy population based on uncertain climate models," said Alaska Assistant Attorney General Steven Daugherty.

Daugherty also criticized the long-established consultation process set forth by the Endangered Species Act, arguing that it "is a long and time-consuming process" and "just, basically, a big time-and-money-waster."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Polar Bears Listed as Threatened Species

After a lengthy delay, federal officials listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act today.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said that shrinking summer ice is the most significant threat to the animals.

"Because polar bears are vulnerable to this loss of habitat, they are—in my judgment—likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future," Kempthorne said during a press briefing.

However, Kempthorne also said the listing would not affect U.S. climate change policies. He argued that scientists have not established that greenhouse-gas producing human activities have an adverse impact on individual polar bears.

"That would be a wholly inappropriate use of the Endangered Species Act," Kempthorne said. "ESA is not the right tool to s U.S. climate policy."

Kempthorne also announced that a provision of the Endangered Species Act allowing activities consistent with the Marine Mammal Protection Act to go forward would be applied to the polar bear.

The impact of that ruling means that oil exploration within the bear's habitat will be allowed to continue, as will subsistence hunting of polar bears by native Americans and trade in native handicrafts made from the animal's fur and other body parts. Import of polar bear products made in Canada will be banned.

The U.S. Geological Survey concluded in 2007 that two-thirds of polar bears could go extinct by 2050.