The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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Congress and California Legislature Speak Out for Polar Bears: Letters Seek Revocation of Damaging Bush Rule


In a remarkable show of support for the polar bear,
41 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 members of the California legislature submitted letters to Interior
Secretary Ken Salazar requesting that he revoke a Bush administration rule
limiting protections for the Arctic's
top predator under the Endangered Species Act. Salazar has until May 9 to
repeal the Bush polar bear rule pursuant to special authority granted to him by
Congress in the Omnibus Appropriations Act. While Salazar and Commerce
Secretary Gary Locke announced the repeal of a separate, nationwide Bush
Endangered Species Act regulation on Monday, Salazar has yet to commit to
revoking the damaging polar bear rule.

"More than 75 lawmakers in Congress and the California
legislature have asked Secretary Salazar to take the common-sense step of
revoking Bush's polar bear extinction plan by the May 9 deadline,"
said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for
Biological Diversity.

The Arctic sea ice on which the polar bear depends is
melting far faster than projected, and some leading scientists now believe that
the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer as early as 2012 - a complete
disaster for the polar bear and many other ice-dependent species, including walrus
and ringed, bearded, spotted, and ribbon seals. The U.S. Geological Survey
projects that two-thirds of the world's polar bears will disappear by
mid-century if current greenhouse emissions continue.

While the Bush administration was compelled by the law to
list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act due to global warming, it
weakened that listing by enacting the special rule to reduce the protections
the polar bear would otherwise receive and exempt greenhouse gas emissions from

The House letter, led by Rep. Jay Inslee and Rep. Ed Markey,
states that "The polar bear 4(d) rulemaking, which allowed public input
only after an interim final regulation had already been put in place, ignores
the law's mandate to adopt all measures necessary for the conservation of
threatened species and denies protections that normally are afforded to species
listed as threatened." This sentiment mirrors a similar letter sent last
week by senators Feinstein, Boxer, and Kerry, which is now supported by over a
dozen other senators and urges Salazar to repeal the polar bear global warming
rule issued by Bush.

Last year, the California
state legislature memorialized California's
commitment to protecting the state's wildlife and natural habitats by adopting
a joint resolution calling on the Bush administration to provide federal
Endangered Species Act protections to the polar bear and other wildlife
threatened by global warming. Today's letter builds on that resolution in
calling for the restoration of the protections that polar bears need to

"Today's letter is a strong signal of California's longtime leadership in
fighting global warming and protecting wildlife and habitats," said

Secretary Salazar has also received more than 200,000 citizen
petitions asking that he revoke the Bush Endangered Species Act and polar bear
rules. If does not rescind the Bush polar bear extinction regulations by
May 9th the rule will remain in effect.

"Secretary Salazar has only a week left to show the America
people whether he is with Bush or the bear," added Siegel.

from U.S. representatives

Letter from the California

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252