The Interior Department
declared the polar bear a threatened species today, saying it must be protected
because of the decline in Arctic sea ice from global warming. Interior
Secretary Dirk Kempthorne cited
dramatic declines in sea ice over the last three decades and projections of
continued losses. These declines, he told a news conference, mean the polar
bear is a species likely to be in danger of extinction in the near future.
also said, though, that it would be ''inappropriate'' to use the protection of
the bear to reduce greenhouse gases, or to broadly address climate change.
called Governor Sarah Palin this morning to inform her of the decision, and
assured her that oil and gas developments are not to blame. Palin was hopeful
the ruling wouldn’t hamper oil and gas development in the arctic:
-- (Palin 1
and he’ll remind American’s of that.”)
out the possibility that the state may sue to have the determination overturned
after Attorney General Talis Colberg reviews the decision.
-- (Palin 2 22
that review of the decision progresses.”)
had been expected early this year, but the Interior Department said it needed
more time to work out many of the details, prompting criticism from members of
Congress and environmentalists. Environmentalists filed a lawsuit aimed at
forcing a decision, and a federal court on April 29 set a May 15 deadline for a