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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

May 8, 2009

Contact: Kristina Johnson (415) 977-5619

Interior Department to Keep Bush Polar Bear Rule
Sierra Club Urges Administration to Reconsider

Washington, D.C. - Today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the Obama administration will not withdraw a special rule limiting protection for polar bears.  The polar bear 4(d) rule was issued in the waning days of the Bush administration and would limit the protections afforded to the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.

Earlier this year, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill that gave the administration the opportunity to withdraw two controversial endangered species act regulations.  The deadline for action was listed as May 10.

Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope

It's a mistake that the Obama administration did not take advantage of the opportunity to provide full protection to the polar bear.  The polar bear's sea ice habitat is melting beneath its feet. If we fail to act, scientists say America's polar bears could disappear by mid-century. 

If polar bears are going to survive global warming, they will need far greater protections than what the law currently offers. The Bush administration enacted this special rule in an effort to delay action in the face of overwhelming evidence that global warming poses a very real and immediate threat to polar bears.

We are committed to working with the Obama administration to increase protections for the polar bear. We urge the administration to reconsider its decision. Polar bears are in imminent danger, and we need bold, decisive action to save them.

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