NRDC and our allies head to court to defend the polar bear

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Everyone knows that polar bears need ice to live.  Specifically, sea ice.  And the decline of sea ice throughout the Arctic--driven by global warming--is the principle reason that polar bears are now in so much peril.  This summer, minimum ice extent was the third-lowest recorded since 1979, that’s a loss of over 2 million square kilometers (815,000 square miles) of habitat.

But don’t tell that to Alaska, or Big Oil, or the Safari Club (who want its members to continue to be allowed to shoot polar bears in Canada and haul their bodies back into the United States).  All of these groups have sued to overturn the polar bear’s listing as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act.  NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity, and our allies have intervened in these cases to defend the bear.  We’ve also filed a case of our own, which seeks to increase the polar bear’s protections under federal law by changing its classification from “threatened” to “endangered.”  That change would close some of the loopholes the Bush Administration left in place--a parting gift to the oil and gas industry--when it protected the bear in the first place.

On October 20th all of these cases, which have been consolidated before a single judge, will be heard in federal court in Washington, D.C., at 10:00 a.m.  The Court has set aside four hours to hear arguments from all parties.  NRDC and our entire legal team will be there.  And I’ll be sure to report on the action.

In the meantime, you can go here to learn more or to write Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar a letter and tell him that now is the time to strengthen the polar bear’s protections.

A polar bear with two cubs, via creative commons (photo by allatok)

About the Authors

Andrew Wetzler

Deputy Chief Program Officer

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