Polar Bear Breakthrough

Judge sets May 15 deadline  for polar bear decision.

Alaska’s polar bears have moved one big step closer to receiving protection under the Endangered Species Act.

NEW YORK (RUSHPRNEWS) May 5, 2008– A federal judge just ordered the Bush Administration to stop dragging its feet and decide by May 15 whether it will safeguard America’s polar bears from the threat of extinction due to rising temperatures and rapidly melting sea ice.

It took a lawsuit by NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace to force this latest breakthrough. The court ruled that the Bush Administration had violated the law by missing its January deadline and then proceeding to delay for months more.

While the Administration stalled for time, it rammed through oil and gas leases in some of the polar bear’s most important Arctic habitat.

By ordering a May 15 deadline for this decision, the federal courts have thrown polar bears an important lifeline.

That’s because the Endangered Species Act requires this momentous decision to be made solely on the best available science — not politics — and the science is absolutely clear that the polar bear urgently needs protection from the impacts of global warming.

With reports of polar bears starving and drowning…snowy dens collapsing on mother bears and their newborn cubs…and populations in decline, there is no longer any doubt that the climate crisis is taking a terrible toll on these magnificent creatures.

But despite the iron-clad evidence, there is no assurance that the Bush Administration will do the right thing on May 15. Given President Bush’s pro-polluter agenda and relentless attacks on wildlife, it is still possible that the Interior Department will deny protection for the polar bear.

In that case, we’ll be fully prepared to drag the Bush Administration back to court and fight in the legal arena until polar bears win the protection they so urgently need.

I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we get word of the Administration’s decision. In the meantime, if you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to tell your senators to stop oil development in Alaska’s prime polar bear habitat.

With Alaska’s polar bears under siege, I am so grateful to have you working by our side to help ensure their survival.


Frances Beinecke
Natural Resources Defense Council


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