Polar Bear’s Deadly Obstacle

by Ryan Patterson

May 8, 2009

Ignoring the pleas to save the polar bear made by the 150,000 Americans who signed a petition asking that the "polar bear special rule" be rescinded, Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that he would leave the rule in place. Sadly, it appears the Obama Administration is willing to ignore the science that says global warming is the biggest threat to polar bears’ survival, just as the Bush Admin did in passing the special rule when listing polar bears as protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Yesterday, local students had the opportunity to join Greenpeace at the Department of Interior to make a stand for the polar bear. Though young, these students understand the value of all life forms and the importance of our government taking action to protect endangered species.

These brave youngsters presented over 150,000 petitions and shared their personal feelings on the threatened polar bear with an employee of the Department of the Interior. They stood up for what they know is right and asked Secretary Salazar to do the same:


May 9th is the last day that the Secretary has to rescind an especially detrimental regulation inserted at the last minute by the Bush administration’s into the Endangered Species Act (ESA), known as the "polar bear special rule." Secretary Salazar recently repealed an industry-friendly regulation — meaning, thankfully, that the consultation process, which allows federal biologists a role in decision-making on potential impacts to endangered species, was reinstated. However, the second regulation, the polar bear rule, remained to be eliminated. It was a regulation that exempted global warming from the list of threats that the federal government must consider in its efforts to protect the polar bear under the ESA.

So we were back at the DOI again today, hoping that Secretary Salazar would look out the window and take pity on the endangered polar bear. We also wanted to remind him that Greenpeace and its members are waiting for his decision.
But instead of doing what’s right for the polar bears, today Secretary Salazar announced that he will not rescind the regulation, cementing the Bush administration’s legacy of federal decisionmakers ignoring global warming science and putting the polar bear at further risk of extinction. (Read the full Greenpeace response here. View slideshow of petition delivery and today’s protest here.)

Regrettably, Salazar’s announcement seems to reflect an emerging willingness by the Obama administration to ignore clear scientific imperatives on global warming in the face of industry pressure.

Greenpeace image: Protest outside of the DOITo show our extreme disappointment in the Secretary and symbolize the damage that his inaction will do, Greenpeace conducted a direct communication outside of the DOI after the terrible announcement. Two activists despairingly walked a mock polar bear into the pool outside of the DOI building, said farewell to their long-time friend, and let the soaking animal drown.

The dead bear floated in the pool until police officers came to recover the sad animal and drag the lifeless body out of the water. It was a creepy reminder of what the actual fate of real-life polar bears will be given Sec. Salazar’s announcement.

Today’s action at the Department of the Interior symbolizes the deadly obstacles that Polar Bears face because of global warming. All it would have taken was the stroke of Salazar’s pen, but instead the planet is left with another disastrous Bush regulation that will contribute to the extinction of a noble species. Secretary Salazar had a chance to make good on the new Obama Administration’s promise to restore science to its rightful place in government, and he squandered that chance.

If we are going to save the polar bears and stop global warming, we cannot let Secretary Salazar off the hook for this travesty. Please call Sec. Salazar today and tell him how disappointed you are.

Making a call is easy, fast, and effective. Simply follow the steps below:

1) Call (202) 208-7351 between the hours of 9am and 5pm ET. If you can’t call then and don’t speak to a person, skip step #2 and leave the message below.

2) The phone will be answered by a staff person in Secretary Salazar’s office. Tell them your name and city and state you are calling from, and then tell the staffer you are calling to leave a message with Secretary Salazar about the Endangered Species Act and polar bears. You will then be asked if you would like to use the Interior Department’s comment line, politely say no, and say that you would prefer leaving your comment with the staff person you are speaking with so that he/she can give that message to the secretary directly.

3) Leave your message. Here’s a sample:

"Hi, My name is ______ and I am calling from ______. I am extremely disappointed that the Secretary did not take action to strike the polar bear special rule from the Endangered Species Act. This means that polar bears are not protected from global warming, which is the primary threat to their long term survival. Please give the Secretary the message that I am calling to express my disappointment that he did not take action to protect the polar bear from global warming."

4) Let us know that you made the call by clicking the button below.

We cannot let Salazar continue to bend to industry pressure. Please call his office today.

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