Was it a good day for the polar bears, or just a symbolic gesture?
The Interior Department today declared the poor creatures a “threatened species” under the Endangered Species Act because of global warming, but said that’s no reason to regulate greenhouse gases or address climate change.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said that although the bears’ feeding and denning grounds are threatened by the loss of Arctic sea ice from global warming, the Endangered Species Act was not meant to regulate climate change.
“The most significant part of today’s decision is what President Bush observed about climate change policy last month,” he said. “President Bush noted that ‘The Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act were never meant to regulate global climate change.’
“The President is right. Listing the polar bear as threatened can reduce avoidable losses of polar bears. But it should not open the door to use the ESA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants, and other sources. That would be a wholly inappropriate use of the Endangered Species Act. ESA is not the right tool to set U.S. climate policy.”
Read the secretary’s remarks here.