Markey Polar Bear Bill Keeps Pressure on Bush Admin. - Bill Would Require Endangered Species Decision Before Oil Drilling
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Contact: Select Committee, 202-225-4081
Markey Polar Bear Bill Keeps Pressure on Bush Admin.
Bill Would Require Endangered Species Decision Before Oil Drilling
WASHINGTON (March 11, 2008) – Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming introduced revised legislation today that would prevent the Interior Department from taking the next steps in allowing oil drilling in a major polar bear habitat until the agency makes a final determination on the status of the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. It has been more than two months since the Bush administration missed the deadline required under the Act to list the polar bear, and a month since the Interior Dept. went forward with an oil lease sale in the Chuckchi Sea in Alaska, leases that are set to be finalized soon and allow oil companies to proceed with oil development.
“If the Bush administration will not stop this ‘drill first, ask questions later’ policy on their own, then it is Congress’ duty to protect regulatory common sense,” said Markey. “This new bill will protect the bear now until the Bush administration finally wakes up and realizes it needs real, lasting protection under the Endangered Species Act.”
The legislation was revised from an earlier version to prevent any action on the sold oil drilling leases in the Chuckchi Sea, otherwise known as Lease Sale 193. The new legislation now would prohibit any “related activity” in regards to the Chuckchi Sea lease sale, which would include advancing oil drilling plans or development.
The bill can be found HERE.
In January, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would miss the statutory deadline to reach a decision on listing the polar bear as threatened under the ESA as a result of global warming, saying it would take up to a month more to reach the decision. The Mineral Management Service, also an Interior Dept. agency, proceeded with an oil lease sale in the major polar bear habitat of the Chuckchi Sea on February 6, 2008, even though the polar bear decision had not been determined.
In the most thorough study to date, an Interior Dept. scientist, who appeared before the Select Committee in January at a hearing on the two incongruous decisions, determined that under current trends, disappearing sea ice would result in a two-thirds drop in the world population of polar bears and the disappearance of polar bears from Alaska by 2050. One of the population centers considered under the greatest threat is the Chuckchi Sea habitat, according to the study.
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