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Court Orders Obama to Reconsider Polar Bear’s Endangered Status

Court Orders Obama to Reconsider Polar Bear’s Endangered Status

A federal court ruled on Thursday that the Obama administration has until December 23 to explain why the polar bear should not be listed as an “endangered” species and should instead be protected under the less-stringent “threatened” status. Elevating the bears’ protected status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act would have wide ranging implications from the legality of hunting activities, drilling in the Arctic, or even emitting ice-melting carbon dioxide pollution hundreds of miles away from bear habitat.

The Obama administration inherited the polar bear decision from President Bush, including a special rule prohibiting any interpretation of the bears’ threatened status to trigger climate change pollution regulation. Obama also inherited a lawsuit challenging the decision. What the judge in the case decreed last Thursday is that the Bush administration had faulty legal arguments for not listing the bear as endangered.

“In his decision, Judge Sullivan said that the agency was wrong to conclude that a species had to be in imminent danger of extinction in order to qualify as an endangered species. He said that the Endangered Species Act was ambiguous as to whether a species had to be on the brink of extinction in order to be considered endangered. He did not rule on the merits.” – Wall Street Journal

“It’s good news,” Kassie Siegel, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which brought the case before the court in the first place, told Politico. Unfortunately, Kassie also told the Washington DC paper that she expects the Obama administration to try to defend the Bush administration’s policy and overhaul the polar bear’s status.

The ruling puts Obama in a tricky spot.  He can defend the threatened decision but if it’s thrown out, he’ll be forced to initiate another endangered species rulemaking process for the polar bear.  Under the new Congress, such a rule making will face fierce opposition.  New Congressional leadership has already blustered that they will try (again) to undo another Obama endangerment finding: that climate change pollution is a threat to the health and welfare of people.

Take Action: If you’ve missed signing these petitions that demand protection for polar bear habitat, sign now!

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photo © 2008 Just Being Myself | more info (via: Wylio)

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224 comments

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5:03PM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

Thank you.

5:02PM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

Thank you.

1:59AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

signed!

6:36PM PST on Dec 1, 2010

i dont believe in global warming they are just as big and ice covered as always its just the government trying to put a different label on pollution think about 100 years ago global warming myth still is polluting always been around and because of people putting different labels on things the consumers and activist believe it is something different when it is really just a cover up for yet more human stupidity

2:35PM PST on Nov 19, 2010

help the polar bears! weve got them into this shit, weve gotta get them out of it!

2:29PM PST on Nov 19, 2010

good its way past time we make congress take real action concerning climate change no more half jobs or deals.. get the bill passed now.And make it address all of our climates concerns with both parties working on it.

12:56PM PST on Nov 15, 2010

Since they don't vote and can't afford a lobbyist we must do it for them,

7:37PM PST on Nov 14, 2010

Petitions signed.

10:59AM PST on Nov 14, 2010

We need a petition out there for this if there isn't one. Link it to this article.

7:27AM PST on Nov 14, 2010

Thank you for posting. If only as much care and concern was put into protecting the less-beautiful species that are endangered. Nature needs a healthy mix of all living creatures in order to stay in balance.

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