Courtesy wikipediaCongressional environmentalists were getting cranky last week as deadlines are coming and going on giving polar bears endangered species protection. At the same time, deadlines are coming to open up some prime polar bear locations to oil exploration.
The Chukchi Sea, home to about a fifth of the world’s polar bears, could be opened to oil and natural gas expeditions next week through the action of one Interior Department division.
Congressional environmentalists, who want to see polar bears be added to the endangered list, claim they were promised that action would happen earlier this month. Now, they claim, the delay is being made to keep the Chukchi open to energy discoveries.
Proponents of global climate change say that melting ice caps in the Arctic are threatening the polar bear population. One study completed this fall predicts that up to two thirds of the polar bear population could be gone by the middle of this century if current warming trends continue.
Interior officials testifying at Congress yesterday said that the delay on adding polar bears to the endangered list is due to a desire to assure that Congress and the public will understand the decision when it is made public.
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