Bad News, Bears
The controversial proposal now before the Senate to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could violate an international agreement signed by the U.S. in 1973 to protect polar bears and their habitats. An internal report obtained by the Washington Post shows that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in 1995 that drilling could be harmful to the bears, which forage, rest, and give birth in the refuge’s coastal plain, where the drilling would occur. The report has never been made public, though it was due to Congress five years ago. A spokesperson for Interior Secretary Gale Norton said that nothing in the international agreement specifically prohibits drilling, and that the administration would do everything possible to minimize the impact on the bears.