Polar Bear Tug-of-War

Industry groups claim Alaska is being unfairly penalized for the polar bears" woes.© U.S. Fish & Wildlife

A coalition of industry groups has joined forces to sue the Bush administration over listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The feds made the listing decision last year because polar bear populations in Alaska are dwindling as their sea ice habitat shrinks due to global warming. In instituting the rule, though, the White House specifically exempted projects in all states but Alaska from undergoing a review of their greenhouse gas emissions. The plaintiffs say the rule, as written, unfairly penalizes businesses operating in Alaska when their contribution to climate change—a global atmospheric problem not associated particularly with local emissions—is no larger or more significant than businesses operating in other states.

"Anchorage has no more effect on climate change or polar ice than does an emission in Ankara," write the plaintiffs, which include the American Petroleum Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Mining Association, National Association of Manufacturers and the American Iron and Steel Institute. The companies these industry groups represent have already spent billions for the right to explore for oil and natural gas within Alaska’s polar bear habitat.

Industry groups aren’t the only ones to sue the federal government over the controversial polar bear listing. Representatives from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others have already filed suit claiming that the polar bear listing doesn’t go far enough to protect habitat and fight global warming. The nonprofits would like to see the federal government upgrade the polar bear’s status to "endangered." According to the Center for Biological Diversity’s Brendan Cummings, the new industry lawsuit is an attempt to "make the polar bear’s protections more meaningless than they already are."

Source: MSNBC