Protect the Polar Bear Seas
Oil Companies Get a Blank Check to harass and possibly kill Polar Bears!!
Act Now: Tell your members of Congress to stop leasing out the Polar Bear’s habitat!
On May 14th - after several years of delay and lawsuits - the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finally announced that Polar Bears would be listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Unbelievably though, FWS refused to address the reason for the bear’s future demise: habitat loss, drilling and global warming.
In an unprecedented move, Secretary of Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, announced an exemption to the Polar Bear’s ESA listing virtually guaranteeing its habitat would not be protected.
The Bush administration has been aggressively auctioning off leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas (Polar Bear Seas) for oil drilling and exploration. Just three months before the Polar Bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the Department of the Interior sold leases to seven oil companies.
Sadly, the Bush Administration is now offering more protections to the oil companies than the polar bears. On June 16th, the FWS formalized the exemptions to the Polar Bear’s listing by issuing regulations providing legal protections for the seven oil companies if “small numbers” of polar bears or walruses are incidentally harmed or killed by exploration activities over the next five years.
Thankfully, there is something we can do! Representatives Inslee and Hinchey have introduced a bill in the US House of Representative (HR 6057) and Senator Kerry introduced a companion bill in the US Senate (S 2568) called the Polar Bear Seas Protection Act of 2008. These bills will protect the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas by calling for a time-out on risky offshore oil and gas development activities until vital questions are answered and key issues are resolved. For instance, we need to designate critical habitat for the polar bear, and we need to have a strong recovery plan in place in the event of an oil spill.
Key steps in the bills include:
- Obtaining scientific information that is currently lacking and is vital to determine the impacts of oil and gas development and climate change;
- Designating critical habitat as required by the law and extending full ESA protections to the polar bear and its habitat;
- Setting a strong, environmentally protective standard for recovering from oil spills; and
- Having in place technology effective enough to clean up oil spills in the harsh arctic conditions of the Polar Bear Seas.
Please ask your Representative to cosponsor The Polar Bear Seas Protection Act (H.R. 6057) and ask your Senators to cosponsor Senator Kerry’s companion legislation (S. 2568) to protect the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas from the added threats posed by massive and environmentally risky offshore oil and gas development. The Capitol switchboard, which can direct your calls, is at (202-224-3121).
Use these links for a current list of cosponsors:
Thank you for your help in protecting America's polar bears!