Interior Secretary blows off polar bear hearings


When will a decision be made about protecting polar bears as an endangered species? The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wants an answer, but Secretary of the Interior Dick Kempthorne isn't ready to give one.

Kempthorne declined to speak to the committee on Tuesday, a move committee chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called a "slap."

A decision on listing the polar bear as an endangered species was legally required to be issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service back on January 9th. The Interior Department asked for 30 more days, but that has long since passed.

How much longer will the polar bear has to wait? From a Center for Biological Diversity press release:

At the hearing, Senator John Warner stated on the record that he had spoken with Secretary Kempthorne about the overdue polar bear decision the previous day and had been left with the impression that Kempthorne would issue the decision by "early summer."

The polar bear faces rapidly shrinking polar habitats due to global warming, and the treat of increased petroleum production on its home turf.

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