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Polar Bears finally on the endangered list





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by Janet Ritz

Cross-posted on Reuters

After months of delay following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recommendation to place the polar bear on the endangered list (a delay that included Interior Secretary, Dirk Kempthorne's failure to appear at a Senate hearing and a final order from a federal judge), the government finally listed the polar bear as threatened today:
“While the legal standards under the ESA [Endangered Species Act] 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," Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne says in a statement.

"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.”
The move requires the government to protect the species and to take measures to help the bears survive, an important consideration and the likely reason for the delay, as this is the first time a species has been listed due to climate change.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmentalist groups that sued the government to force the decision has said they will fight to for regulations on emissions that they cite as the causal relationship to the melting ice that is harming the bears.

"This is a profound acknowledgment of the threat not only to polar bears but to the entire Arctic ecosystem," said Andrew Wetzler of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It is going to provide important protection for polar bear populations."

Dirk Kempthorne's response made it clear that he did not want to see this decision lead to a broader effort to curtail global warming...

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