After years of delay, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne finally declared the polar bear a “threatened species,” under the Endangered Species Act, due to global warming. Yet at the same time, Kempthorne also decreed that drilling in the Arctic can still continue:
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.
Kempthorne’s decision calls into question the legality of a Feb. 6 sale of oil and gas drilling right in polar bear habitat, when the ESA decision was being illegally delayed. Go to the Wonk Room for in-depth analysis.