The decision whether or not to list the polar bear as a threatened species, which could require sweeping policy changes affecting oil and gas exploration, as well a fossil fuel combustion, will be delayed by as much as another month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday.
The Endangered Species Act decision had been expected within days, according to recent press accounts.
It was proposed that the polar bear, which is losing habitat and being stressed on long-distance swims as the Arctic warms, should be protected under the Endangered Species Act a year ago. The decision had been expected within days, according to recent press accounts.
The USFWS said the decision would wait on the analysis of a second round of public comments, which were received after the U.S. Geological Survey released a study in September, predicting that two thirds of the world's polar bear population may disappear within 50 years as nearly half the bears' summer sea ice melts.
The report coincided with observations in the Arctic that recorded the greatest extent of melting by far ever recorded. While conditions such as ocean currents and wind patterns had a lot to do with the melting, it was widely seen as a harbinger of global warming in a part of the world most vulnerable to changes to the climate.
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