Polar bears still out of luck

As the Bush administration did before it, the Obama administration also thinks that the Endangered Species Act shouldn’t be invoked to restrict greenhouse gas emissions that threaten polar bears and their habitat. Obama has reversed a number of rules regarding the environment that Bush pushed through during the last days of his presidency. However, in an announcement in early May, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, “The single greatest threat to the polar bear is the melting of Arctic sea ice due to climate change.” But he said comprehensive policies are needed to address the global risks—and global emissions—of greenhouse gases rather than a mixture of actions carried out for specific species. As quoted in the New York Times, he said, “It would be very difficult for our scientists to be doing evaluations of a cement plant in Georgia or Florida and the impact it’s going to have on the polar bear habitat. I just don’t think the Endangered Species Act was ever set up with that contemplation in mind.”