In its latest clash with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior has rejected the findings of its biological agency and concluded that oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would not violate an international treaty to protect polar bears and their habitats. A 1995 USFWS report found that the Arctic Refuge contains “the greatest concentration of denning polar bears in Alaska.” But higher-ups in the Department of the Interior have insisted that oil drilling would not harm the bears or contravene the treaty, and the USFWS now officially agrees with that position. Meanwhile, efforts to protect the refuge were dealt another setback yesterday when five major unions reiterated their support of a bill to approve drilling there. The Teamsters estimate that opening up the refuge would create 700,000 jobs; the Center for Economic and Policy Research puts the number at 46,000.

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