As previously reported in the 9 May AIBS Public Policy Report (http://www.aibs.org/public-policy-reports/20080509.html#004888), the Federal Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favor of three environmental groups that sued the Department of the Interior (DOI) to have the polar bear added to the endangered species list. United States District Judge Claudia Wilken issued a decision on 28 April ordering the Bush Administration to decide by 15 May whether the polar bear deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act.
In response to the Court, DOI listed the polar bear as threatened on 14 May. According to a DOI press release, “the listing is based on the best available science, which shows that loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten polar bear habitat.” Secretary Kempthorne stated, “While the legal standards under the ESA compel me to list the polar bear as threatened, I want to make clear that this listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting. Any real solution requires action by all major economies for it to be effective. That is why I am taking administrative and regulatory action to make certain the ESA isn’t abused to make global warming policies.”
Not satisfied with the agency’s decision to only list the polar bear as ‘threatened’ and to not take actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions, environmental groups are again filing a legal complaint against the Bush Administration and the Department for ruling that the Endangered Species Act should not be used to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
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