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E-M:/ For Immediate Release: Environmental Groups Sue Bush Administration to Force Polar Bear Protection
- Subject: E-M:/ For Immediate Release: Environmental Groups Sue Bush Administration to Force Polar Bear Protection
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- Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2008 10:01:53 -0400
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Enviro-Mich message from Justin Trezza <email@example.com>
For Immediate Release
March 10, 2008
Justin Trezza, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Environmental Groups Sue Bush Administration to Force Polar Bear
Faced With Overwhelming Scientific Evidence, Government Continues Delay
on Endangered Species Act Listing Due to Global Warming *
SAN FRANCISCO- Today the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace,
and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the Bush
administration for missing its legal deadline for issuing a final
decision on whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species
Act due to global warming.
"The Bush administration seems intent on slamming shut the narrow window
of opportunity we have to save polar bears," said Kassie Siegel, climate
program director at the Center for Biological Diversity and lead author
of the 2005 petition seeking the Endangered Species Act listing. "We
simply will not sit back and passively allow the administration to
condemn polar bears to extinction."
Polar bears live only in the Arctic and are totally dependent on the sea
ice for all of their essential needs. The rapid warming of the Arctic
and melting of the sea ice pose an overwhelming threat to the polar
bear, which could become the first mammal to lose 100 percent of its
habitat to global warming.
The groups filed their lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of California. The lawsuit seeks a court order
compelling the administration to issue the final decision on polar bear
"The Endangered Species Act is absolutely unambiguous: the Fish and
Wildlife Service was required to make a final decision months ago. Now
it's up to a federal court to throw this incredible animal a lifeline,"
said Andrew Wetzler, director of NRDC's Endangered Species Project. "We
need urgent action from this administration to protect the polar bear
and reduce greenhouse gas pollution, not continued delay."
The Endangered Species Act listing process for the polar bear due to
global warming was initiated with a scientific petition from the Center
for Biological Diversity, NRDC, and Greenpeace. In December 2005 the
groups sued the Bush administration for failing to respond to the
petition. As a result of that first lawsuit, in February 2006 the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service found that protection of polar bears "may be
warranted" and commenced a full status review of the species. A
settlement agreement in that case committed the Service to make the
second of three required findings in the listing process by December 27,
2007, at which time the Service announced the proposal to list the
species as threatened. By law, the Service was required to make a final
listing decision within one year of the proposal. The decision is now
more than two months overdue.
Noting that the federal government initiated lease sales to drill for
oil in the Chukchi Sea earlier this month, Kert Davies, research
director at Greenpeace USA, said: "Our lawsuit has forced the Bush
administration's hand on the issue of global warming like no other, even
as it rubberstamps drilling rights for Big Oil in pristine polar bear
habitat. If the federal government is really serious about protecting
the polar bear, then its next steps will be to cancel lease sales in the
Chukchi Sea and immediately implement a plan for deep cuts in U.S.
global warming pollution."
Since the petition to protect polar bears under the Endangered Species
Act was first filed in February 2005, new science paints a dim picture
of the polar bear's future. In September, the U.S. Geological Survey
predicted that two-thirds of the world's polar bear population would
likely be extinct by 2050, including all polar bears within the United
States. Several leading scientists now predict the Arctic could be
ice-free in the summer as early as 2012.
Global warming is worsening, with impacts in the Arctic outpacing
predictions. September 2007 shattered all previous records for sea-ice
loss when the Arctic ice cap shrank to a record one million square miles
- equivalent to six times the size of California - below the average
summer sea-ice extent of the past several decades, reaching levels not
predicted to occur until mid-century.
Shrinking sea ice also drastically restricts polar bears' ability to
hunt their main prey, ice seals. In the spring of 2006, scientists
located the bodies of several bears that had starved to death.
Unprecedented instances of polar bear cannibalism have also been
documented along the north coast of Alaska and Canada.
Listing the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act guarantees
federal agencies will be obligated to ensure that any action they
authorize, fund, or carry out will not jeopardize the polar bears'
continued existence or adversely modify their critical habitat, and the
Fish and Wildlife Service will be required to prepare a recovery plan
for the polar bear, specifying measures necessary for its protection.
To date, the government has received approximately 670,000 comments in
support of protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act,
including letters from eminent polar bear experts, climate scientists,
and more than 60 members of Congress.
# # #
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization with 2.7 million
members worldwide that uses peaceful protest and creative communication
to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions for the
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