Green groups sue over delay in polar-bear endangered-species decision
Environmental and native groups have sued — as they are wont to do — in an attempt to force the Interior Department to rethink its decision to sell oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, which is prime polar bear habitat. The lease sale by the department’s Minerals Management Service is scheduled to go ahead next week; meanwhile, another agency in the department, the Fish and Wildlife Service, has delayed its decision on whether polar bears should be protected as endangered species. FWS Director Dale Hall told a Senate hearing Wednesday that while staff recommendations are complete, the agency is unlikely to issue its final decision until the lease sale has been completed. Not because it values oil sales over polar bears, no sirree — because it wants to be sure the polar-bear decision will be fully understood by Congress and the public. Uh huh. We think we understand just fine.