Bush-era regulation gutting protections for Polar Bear becomes Obama-era regulation gutting protections for Polar Bears

Salazar to let "polar bear special rule" stand

Feature story - May 12, 2009
Following Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement that he would not rescind the “polar bear special rule,” which guts Endangered Species Act protections for polar bears, Greenpeace conducted a direct communication outside of the Department of the Interior. As a symbol of the damage that his inaction will cause, two activists solemnly walked a mock polar bear into the pool in front of the DOI building and left it to drown.

Along with the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace presented Secretary Salazar with a petition on May 7th that was signed by 150,000 Americans urging him to restore full protections to the polar bear. All it would have taken was a stroke of Salazar's pen. Now the planet is left with another disastrous Bush regulation that will contribute to the extinction of the polar bear. We cannot let the Obama Administration off the hook for this travesty. Please call Sec. Salazar today and tell him how disappointed you are.

"Secretary Salazar's failure to rescind this regulation only serves to cement the Bush administration's legacy of ignoring global warming science, thus putting the polar bear at further risk of extinction," said Melanie Duchin, Greenpeace's global warming campaigner in Alaska. "Regrettably, it seems to reflect an emerging willingness by the Obama administration to ignore clear scientific imperatives on global warming in the face of industry pressure."

"Self-consultation" rescinded, polar bears left high and dry

May 9th was the last day that the Secretary had to rescind two especially egregious regulations inserted at the last minute by the Bush administration into the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On April 28th, Secretary Salazar rescinded one of the regulations - an industry-friendly regulation known as "self-consultation," which removed the requirement that federal agencies consult outside wildlife experts before taking any action that might further endanger a species protected under the ESA. We are pleased that he rescinded the self-consultation rule. But Salazar announced on May 8th that he will not rescind the polar bear special rule, which exempts global warming from being taken into consideration as part of the protections afforded to polar bears by the ESA.

Given the projections of ice-free summers in the Arctic as early as 2010 due to global warming, Sec. Salazar's announcement makes the future especially grim for polar bears. They face starvation, drowning, and possible extinction by 2050, according to the US Geological Survey. The announcement is also worrisome because it carries on the Bush Administration's legacy of ignoring global warming science.

Read the full Greenpeace response here.

Over 150,000 petition signatures delivered. Add your voice!

We first delivered the petition to save the polar bear to Sec. Salazar on April 22nd with over 85,000 signatures. We presented the petition again with 150,000 signatures on May 7th, and went back one more time on May 8th hoping that Secretary Salazar would look out the window and take pity on the endangered polar bear. We wanted to remind him that Greenpeace and its members were watching what his decision will be.

View a slideshow of pics taken at our petition delivery event at the DOI on May 7th and our protest outside the DOI on May 8th.

If you're as disppointed as us with Salazar for ignoring the voice of the people and caving to industry pressure, give him a call and urge him to save the polar bears now.


Take Action

Call Sec. Salazar and tell him you are disappointed he has caved to industry pressure