At first, on the surface, today's announcement from the U.S Department of the Interior that the polar bear would be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was great! And then we read the fine print in the DOI's release (emphasis mine):
To make sure the ESA is not misused to regulate global climate change, Kempthorne promised the following actions:
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a 4(d) rule that states that if an activity is permissible under the stricter standards of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is also permissible under the ESA with respect to the polar bear. This rule, effective immediately, will ensure the protection of the bear while allowing us to continue to develop our natural resources in the arctic region in an environmentally sound way.
- Director Hall will issue guidance to staff that the best scientific data available today cannot make a causal connection between harm to listed species or their habitats and greenhouse gas emissions from a specific facility, or resource development project or government action.
- The Department will issue a Solicitor’s Opinion further clarifying these points.
- The Department will propose common sense modifications to the existing ESA regulatory language to prevent abuse of this listing to erect a back-door climate policy outside our normal system of political accountability.
Oh yes, we knew it was too good to be true.