Problem for Polar Bears: Department of Interior Sticks With 'Special Rule' Undercutting Protection

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Josh Mogerman, 312-651-7909

Problem for Polar Bears: Department of Interior Sticks With 'Special Rule' Undercutting Protection

CHICAGO - The Department of Interior announced today that a controversial rule
undercutting Endangered Species Act protections for the polar bear
would remain in place. The special regulations issued by the Bush
administration and generally called a "special rule" or a "4(d) rule"
effectively waived many of the protections the polar bear would have
received through its listing under the Endangered Species Act.
When Interior listed the bears as threatened last year it agreed with
scientists about the impacts of Arctic warming on polar bears, yet the
"special rule" excludes greenhouse gas emissions thereby
limiting protection of the bears under the Endangered Species Act.

The
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Biological
Diversity, and Greenpeace initiated a legal challenge to the 4(d) rule
last May.

Following are comments from Andrew Wetzler, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Program at NRDC:

"This
is yet another decision by the Department of Interior that undermines
protection for our endangered animals. The impact of global warming are
already being felt in the arctic, and it poses a grave threat to polar
bears and the entire ecosystem. We need to use every tool at our
disposal, including the Endangered Species Act. The rule endorsed today
is illegal, and we will continue to fight it in court."

Additional commentary and a legal critique of today's announcement can be found on Wetzler's blog at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/awetzler/one_of_these_things_is_not_lik.html

Broadcast quality polar bear video is available for download at http://nrdc.mediaseed.tv/Story.aspx?story=34431

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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