For Immediate Release
Statement of Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace on Obama Polar Bear Endangered Species Act Decision
WASHINGTON - This week,
the Obama administration reaffirmed a Bush-era decision that listed the polar
bear as "threatened," rather than the more protective "endangered," under the
Endangered Species Act. The Obama government claimed that the polar bear
did not qualify as "endangered" because it was not "on the brink" of extinction
- a standard that is not contained in the Endangered Species Act.
decision, made by the Department of the Interior, comes in response to a November court ruling ordering the administration to
either reconsider or clarify the reasoning behind the Bush decision to list the
bear as "threatened." The November court ruling resulted from a lawsuit
by the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and
Greenpeace, which is ongoing. A hearing on the proper listing status for the
polar bear is set for Feb. 23, 2011, in Washington, D.C.
conservation groups issued the following statement in response to the new
administration delivered a lump of coal to the polar bear for Christmas," said
Kassie Siegel, director of the Center's Climate Law Institute and lead author of
the 2005 petition to federally protect the polar bear. "Once again President
Obama's Interior Department has sacrificed sound science for political
expediency, and the polar bear will suffer as a result."
"I guess if a wrecking ball is barreling down on your
house, you are just ‘threatened'...it might change course," said Andrew Wetzler,
Director of the Land & Wildlife Program at the Natural Resources Defense
Council. "The Administration missed
an opportunity. We are convinced that is wrong and any reasonable definition of
‘endangered species' includes the polar bear."
rather than acknowledge the plight of the polar bear, the Obama administration
continued its head-in-sand approach to species protection in the face of global
warming," said Melanie Duchin, of Greenpeace. "Ultimately, we are confident the
court will do what the Obama administration failed to do - give polar bears the
legal protection to which they are entitled and which they