Three environmental groups sued the Bush Administration today, arguing that it has missed its deadline for deciding whether or not to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The icon of global warming run amok, polar bears could virtually disappear by mid-Century if nothing is done to stop the loss of sea ice they need to survive.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California by the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It comes on the same day that it was revealed that the Bush Administration is investigating itself for failing to meet the deadline.
The Endangered Species Act is absolutely unambiguous: the Fish and Wildlife Service was required to make a final decision months ago. Now its up to a federal court to throw this incredible animal a lifeline, said Andrew Wetzler, director of NRDCs Endangered Species Project. We need urgent action from this administration to protect the polar bear and reduce greenhouse gas pollution, not continued delay.
The Center for Biological Diversity first forced the issue of listing the polar bear as endangered in 2005, and the groups first sued later that year, alleging the Bush Administration had failed to respond to the petition. Court and law-mandated deadlines have since been missed, and the final decision is still pending, while oil and gas exploration of polar bear habitat continues.
Our lawsuit has forced the Bush administrations hand on the issue of global warming like no other, even as it rubberstamps drilling rights for Big Oil in pristine polar bear habitat," said Kert Davies, research director at Greenpeace USA. "If the federal government is really serious about protecting the polar bear, then its next steps will be to cancel lease sales in the Chukchi Sea and immediately implement a plan for deep cuts in U.S. global warming pollution."
Note: The comments were provided in a press release from the groups.
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