Polar bears are considered marine mammals because they depend on sea ice for hunting seals, but they den on land. As sea ice has retreated, polar bears must swim farther and expend more energy to reach it.So when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was faced with a January 9th deadline to on whether to list polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, it took swift action, right?
A U.S. Geological Survey study issued this summer found that in the next 50 years, shrinking sea ice will leave only a small population of polar bears in the islands of the Canadian Arctic. Two-thirds of the world's polar bears, including those along the coasts of Alaska and Russia, are projected to disappear.
Of course not. This is the Bush administration. That's not how they roll.
The Fish and Wildlife Service postponed the decision for a month -- in an amazing coincidence, just enough time for the Minerals Management Service to sneak in yesterday's oil and gas lease sale in prime polar bear habitat:
The Interior Department yesterday announced $2.6 billion in winning bids from companies seeking to drill for oil and gas in Alaska's Chukchi Sea despite protests from environmental groups and members of Congress that oil and gas exploration would endanger polar bears.Now that those leases are all squared away, the Fish and Wildlife Service will likely make a decision on the polar bear in the next few days.
Companies made 667 bids for 448 tracts in the 29 million-acre area north of Point Barrow. The winning bids included a record-breaking $105.3 million offer by Shell Oil for one three-by-three-mile leasehold, almost twice as much as the previous high bid for a single offshore U.S. tract.
You can tell the Bush administration you're outraged about the decision, but honestly, what good will it do? The Bush administration long ago decided to leave a legacy of using its public office to line the pockets of friends and thwart any efforts to hold it accountable, while passing problems like Iraq, the national debt, and climate change on to the next administration.