Endangered Species Act will not be used to curb greenhouse emissionsAnsgar Walk, from Wikimedia Commons)
In a decision that raised howls from environmentalists, the Obama administration has decided to let stand a Bush-era ruling that bars the Endangered Species Act from being used as a weapon to fight global warming. (See here and here.)
Environmentalists have hoped to use the act, and other environmental laws, to prod the government into reining in emissions of greenhouse gases, which have warmed the planet and disrupted habitat for species around the world. As Arctic sea ice has shrunk in recent years, the polar bear has been the poster child for this trend. (But see below: sea ice rebounded in April.) Last year the Bush administration listed the species as threatened. But it also issued a special ruling that the Endangered Species Act could not be used to force reductions in greenhouse emissions.
Now, Obama’s Interior Department has left that ruling in effect.
“The Endangered Species Act is not the appropriate tool for us to deal with what is a global issue,” Salazar said in a conference call with reporters.
Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, was none too pleased. “The action taken by Salazar today, and the spin on that action, is every bit as cynical, abusive and antiscientific as the Bush administration,” she’s quoted as saying in Andy Revkin’s story on the ruling.
Noah Greenwald, the biodiversity program director for the group, was even more blunt: “For Salazar to adopt Bush’s polar bear extinction plan is confirming the worst fears of his tenure as Secretary of the Interior. Secretary Salazar would apparently prefer to please Sarah Palin than to protect polar bears.”
Oh yeah, Salazar wants to please Sarah Palin. That makes perfect sense, don’t you think?
Back in March, the group had nothing but strong praise for another decision on the Endangered Species Act by the administration. I guess that’s just how it goes in Washington. One minute you’re the messiah and the next the devil.
Meanwhile, cool conditions caused the extent of Arctic sea ice to rebound significantly in April. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, it is now close to the long-term mean. Arctic sea ice usually declines in April as conditions warm. But this past April, according to NSDIC, the rate of decline was the third slowest on record.
Even so, NSDIC warns that the ice is thin and “vulnerable to summer melt.” And over the long term (since 1979), Arctic sea ice in the month of April has declined by 2.8 percent per decade. Per year, the decline has averaged 16,400 square miles.