By Matthew Daly
WASHINGTON — A federal judge ordered the Obama administration on Wednesday to review whether polar bears, at risk because of global warming, are endangered under U.S. law.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan wants the Interior Department to clarify a decision by the administration of former President George W. Bush that polar bears were merely threatened rather than in imminent danger of extinction.
Sullivan’s request, made at a hearing Wednesday in federal court, keeps in place the 2008 declaration by the Bush administration.
Former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in May 2008 that the bears were on the way to extinction because of the rapid disappearance of the Arctic Sea ice upon which they depend. But he stopped short of declaring them endangered, which had it been declared would have increased protections for the bear and make oil and gas exploration more difficult.
Scientists predict sea ice will continue to melt because of global warming. (more…)