May 8, 2009
Are Salazar and Obama Really Hanging Polar Bears Out to Dry?
Obama's Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today that he won't be overturning that 11th-hour rule that Bush imposed on his way out of office. The law basically limits the scope of the Endangered Species Act to not apply to emissions of greenhouse gasses. And since greenhouse gasses are presumably the reason polar bears' homes are melting, the law basically leaves polar bears unprotected.Environmentalists (Greenpeace, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife et al.) are pissed, and for very valid reasons, and say they will be taking the decision to court.But I'm not convinced that Salazar and Obama don't have other plans, here. I'm glad there is outcry, and I find the pressure being put on the Administration encouraging, but I have a hard time believing Salazar & Co. are just going to sit back while polar bears continue to fall into the ocean and die. Salazar has already said that "this administration is fully committed to the protection and recovery of the polar bear," and that he is open to other solutions. We also know that this administration has made it a central goal to aggressively tackle greenhouse gas emissions. What Salazar did not want was to tackle greenhouse gas emissions through the Endangered Species Act.There's an interesting annotated discussion of the polar bear issue by Andrew Revkin, which he wrote when Bush did the deed in the first place. It adds insight to this idea that we shouldn't be relying solely on the ESA to get our energy policy intact. You can read the whole thing here.What's your take?