The Washington Post is reporting that the polar bear will be listed as a threatened species. The principle threat to these giant predators is, of course, global warming and the disappearance of the summer ice pack.
Don’t think for a minute that this represents some warm and fuzzy impulse by Buscheney and Co. The lede is buried in the story:
By submitting the proposal today, the Interior Department is meeting a deadline under a legal settlement with three environmental advocacy groups – the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace — that argue the government has not responded quickly enough to the polar bear’s plight. The department has been examining the status of polar bears for more than two years.
NRDC senior attorney Andrew Wetzler, one of the lawyers who filed suit against the administration, welcomed the proposal for listing.
“It’s such a loud recognition that global warming is real,” Wetzler said. “It is rapidly threatening the polar bear and, in fact, an entire ecosystem with utter destruction.”
From the NRDC press release:
The conservation organizations Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC, and Greenpeace sued the Bush administration in December 2005, because the government had ignored a petition to protect the polar bear. In response, the USF&WS completed the required first “90-day finding” in February 2006, and found that protection of polar bears “may be warranted,” and commenced a full status review of the species. The proposed listing is the result of that scientific study.
Before the proposed rule can be finalized, it will be subject to another round of public comments. Thus far the government has received more than 200,000 comments in support of listing the polar bear, including letters from eminent polar bear experts, climate scientists, and more than 35 members of Congress.
Congratulations to the NRDC, Greenpeace, CBD, and to the thousands of concerned citizens who made this happen. To Buscheney, my Christmas present is a festive Bronx cheer.
And a reminder to Dear Leader: these guys aren’t done with you yet.