This just in from Associated Press:
The Interior Department has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to announce a decision on whether to list the polar bear as threatened and in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne proposed such protection 15 months ago because of the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, which is a primary habitat for the bear. Last September, scientists said up to two-thirds of the polar bears could disappear by mid-century because of sea ice loss due to global warming.
However, it’s not certain the bear will be listed as threatened. Recently the United States and Canada agreed to conduct additional research into the future survival of the bear. That memorandum did not mention global warming.
You can read that memorandum of understanding signed by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne here [PDF]. It was signed back on May 8 but I haven’t seen it reported anywhere. Weird.
The science couldn’t be more clear — the polar bear is threatened by climate change and could be gone from U.S. soil (and ice) by mid-century. It’s hard to imagine a decision not to protect the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, even from the Bush administration. That would completely contradict evidence presented by the administration’s own biologists and show that obstruction on climate action is more of a priority than protecting the polar bear.