The Who had it right. Meet the new boss … same as the old boss:
The Obama administration is sticking with a George W. Bush-era decision to deny polar bears endangered species status.
In a court filing Wednesday, the Fish and Wildlife Service defended the previous administration’s decision to give the polar bear the less-protective “threatened” species designation, a move that will frustrate environmentalists who hoped for stronger protections under the Endangered Species Act. …
At the time, the service determined the bears weren’t danger of extinction, so did not warrant the “endangered” status. The bears were listed as “threatened” because they face serious threats from projected decline in its sea ice habitat due to global warming would result in them likely being in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.
Even the “threatened” status applied to polar bears is questionable, and not primarily based on any population data. In fact, the population of polar bears seems to be either stable overall or increasing. Their numbers are not large — around 22,000 overall — which means that their status is certainly worth watching. But the main reason for placing them on the threatened list is to argue about global warming, not polar bears.
That was the reason AGW advocates pressured the Bush administration to go further and declare them endangered rather than threatened, and hoped the Obama administration would act where Bush would not. A finding of “endangerment” would allow AGW advocates to start filling court dockets with lawsuits against emitters of carbon dioxide by claiming that global warming was killing polar bears. It would also give the government the opportunity to bypass Congress and the EPA and start regulating emissions under the Endangered Species Act rather than the separate endangerment finding the EPA proposes to use for its expansion of regulation next year.
The White House made the right choice in refusing to give AGW advocates that opening.