The Bush Administration is investigating itself, wondering why it can't make a decision on the status of the polar bear, which could disappear by mid-century due primarily to global warming, the Wall Street Journal reports today.
"The Interior Department's inspector general has begun an 'initial inquiry' into why the department has delayed for nearly two months a decision on listing the polar bear as a threatened species.
"A decision on the matter, which oil and gas companies worry could trigger new restrictions on drilling in Alaska, was supposed to have been made by early January by the agency's Fish and Wildlife Service. When that deadline came, the service said it needed another month, citing the complexity of the issue. That timetable also was not met."
Critics of the Administration believe it is precisely the oil and gas interests that are holding up the decision. If the agency rules in favor of polar bears, the federal government will designate "critical habitat" that should be protected. That includes lucrative oil and gas fields that would otherwise be exploited for profit.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has been reeling since top officials were ousted for politicizing science. It's been trying to restore a tarnished reputation, but the polar bear indecision is not helping.
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