A while back, the Bush Administration reluctantly declared the polar bear threatened (under the Endangered Species Act) due to global warming and shrinking habitat. It determined, however, that it would not use the ESA as the basis to require steps to curtail climate change. Indeed, the Bushies had no intention of curtailing climate change at all. The Obama folks agreed that the ESA was the wrong means through which to make climate policy. Thus, the bear remained threatened and the government remained unwilling to take steps to protect it
Fast forward to this week when the Obama Department of the Interior proposed setting aside 200,000 square miles of arctic habitat for the bear. This, of course, sounds fabulous. However, two important caveats remain:
1) The habitat is not to be free of encroachment. Rather, oil and gas drilling and other activities will continue — they will just require government permission, something Shell received just this week.
2) Unless climate change gets very mitigated very fast, all those square miles of habitat won’t save the bear.
Upshot: Better scoot up north and see a bear while you can…
Filed under: animal law, environmental ethics, environmental law Tagged: | animal advocacy, animal law, climate change, endangered species, Endangered Species Act, environmental advocacy, environmental ethics, environmental law, environmentalism, global warming, Obama Administration, polar bears