6/28/2010 3:24:27 PM

U.S. Policy: Few Tools for Helping Polar Bears

Data showing that arctic sea ice losses threaten polar bear survival led the U.S. to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act two years ago. But a special ruling by then Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne barred action on reducing greenhouse gases as part of the recovery plan—leaving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service powerless to address the most serious threat to polar bears.

With few tools available, the Fish and Wildlife Service instead proposed a designated critical habitat area for polar bears, mainly in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. This has drawn fire from energy and business interests. At the same time, environmental groups are pushing for action on reducing greenhouse gases to reverse climate warming.

Meanwhile, this summer's ice loss in the Arctic is the largest on record. A Washington Post article sums it up nicely: "The iconic bears are threatened with extinction, and so far nothing much is being done."

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