Tit for Tat

May 16, 2008 8:47am

The picture that accompanies this post is not of a polar bear, it’s of a political football.  Wednesday’s decision to list the bears as a threatened species, everyone involved seems to agree, did very little to affect their well-being for now. So Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) have now introduced The Polar Bear Seas Protection Act of 2008, intended to protect against oil and gas drilling in the Beaufort Sea (off the northeast coast of Alaska) and the Chukchi Sea (off to the northwest). The environmental groups that sued in 2006 to protect the bears under the Endangered Species Act were up-front in their motives: they wanted to use the bears as a legal weapon against the production of greenhouse gases.  Take a look at the release, HERE, from the Center for Biological Diversity, which has pursued the issue for four years with polar bears and other species. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne made it clear that he — and the White House — would not fall for it.  "Listing the polar bear as threatened can reduce avoidable losses of polar bears.  But it should not open the door to use the ESA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants, and other sources," he said.  Read his prepared remarks HERE. Now come Reps. Inslee and Hinchey.  Sen. John Kerry has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. "While the listing was a long overdue recognition of scientific reality, the administration included a poison pill by ruling out the one thing that would make it meaningful: an effective policy on stopping global warming.  It’ll be business as usual for oil and gas development, which will put polar bears at greater risk from potential spills, onshore infrastructure and disturbances, not to mention, will continue emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing the melting of sea ice in the first place,” said Inslee in a statement to accompany the bill.  “This bill will help fill the vacuum of administration leadership by providing important protections for polar bears and their habitat." Will the tactic work?  Should it? 

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