Statement of the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and Natural Resources Defense Council on Bush Administration’s Further Weakening of Protection for the Polar Bear

Today Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the issuance of a new regulation further weakening the protections polar bears receive under the Endangered Species Act. The regulation, known as a "4(d) Rule," for section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act, purports to exempt greenhouse gas emissions and oil development, the two leading threats to the species, from regulation under the Act.

The new regulation is designed to replace the "interim final rule" issued on May 15, 2008 when the polar bear was first listed as a threatened species. Today's regulation contains similar exemptions as the earlier 4(d) rule but is written with broader language to exempt even more actions threatening the polar bear from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. The original 4(d) rule is subject to an ongoing legal challenge brought by the Center for Biological Diversity,Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Today's 4(d) regulation specific to the polar bear comes the same day that Secretary Kempthorne announced the finalization of separate rules exempting all greenhouse gas emissions from regulations under other provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

Statement of Kassie Siegel, climate program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, and lead author of the 2005 petition to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act:

"The Bush administration has repackaged the same old lump of coal as a holiday present for the polar bear, and once again handed its friends in the oil industry a huge gift. These regulations seem designed to drive the polar bear extinct."

Statement of Melanie Duchin, Global Warming Campaigner at Greenpeace USA:

"With just 40 days left until the Bush administration is finally out of office, the Interior Department is trying to put one last nail in the polar bear's coffin. Exempting global warming and oil development from the list of threats facing polar bears guts the protections that the Endangered Species Act listing should provide."

Statement of Andrew Wetzler, Director, NRDC Endangered Species Project:

"Today's decision reaffirms what the Bush administration has long made clear==they'll use any trick they can in the waning days of this administration to weaken protections for the polar bear and other wildlife and avoiddealing with global warming pollution."

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VVPR info: Kassie Siegel, CBD, cell: 951-961-7972, ksiegel@biologicaldiversity.org; Andrew Wetzler, NRDC, cell: 312-823-4241; office: (312) 780-7429, awetzler@nrdc.org; Jane Kochersperger, Greenpeace, cell: (202)-680-3798, jane.kochersperger@greenpeace.org; or Daniel Kessler, cell: (970) 690-2728, daniel.kessler@greenpeace.org

Notes: The Center for Biological Diversity works through science, law, and creative media to secure a future for all species, great or small, hovering on the brink of extinction. www.biologicaldiversity.org Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization with 2.7 million members worldwide that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions for the future. www.greenpeace.org The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing. www.nrdc.org

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