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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bush Administration Continues to Drag Out Polar Bear Decision
Today, the U.S. Interior Department announced that it would further delay making an endangered species listing decision for the polar bear. The decision was originally due on January 9, 2008, but the Interior Department has failed to act, citing no good reason for its delay. Now the agency says it will wait an additional ten weeks before announcing a decision.
The Sierra Club and other environmental groups have called for an investigation into the delay, which allowed just enough time for the Interior Department to open polar bear habitat to oil drilling. In February, Shell Oil placed a record bid for rights to drill the Chukchi Sea, where an estimated one-tenth of America’s polar bears live.
Oil and gas activities, including seismic testing, are due to begin in the Chukchi Sea this summer.
Statement of Sierra Club Representative Trish Rolfe
"This delay allows oil and gas activities to begin in the Arctic this summer without the added worry of caring for a federally-listed species."
"America has been presented with the urgent problem of saving one of our most iconic species from global warming. Instead of taking quick, decisive action to save polar bears, our leaders have responded with denial, delay, and soon, drilling."
"Arctic sea ice is melting so quickly now that every second counts. Even a ten-week delay further stacks the odds against this animal. We can’t wait until the last bear drowns before we deal with global warming. Polar bears would already be listed if it weren’t for a small handful of special interests fighting the decision at every step."