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Polar Bear Countdown

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A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to issue its decision on whether the polar bear is a threatened species as a result of global warming’s impact on polar ice by May 15.

I have written about the effort to back door Kyoto via the polar bear listing push here and here. The impact of a decision to list the bear would be vast, and the costs to the economy only dimly perceived even by the industries which would be immediately impacted. The short summary is that any activity that leads to the emission of greenhouse gases and requires a federal permit would immediately be subject to a new level of permitting and feceral review (and demands for “mitigation”) under Section 7 of the ESA.

If the petition to list is rejected, the environmental groups that generated more than 600,000 comments in favor of the listing will sue. If the bear is listed, the environmental groups will start suing to push the most expansive interpretation of the law.

Ordinarily the chaos that follows a listing is limited to the region a species inhabits. The polar bear controversy will dwarf all previous ESA smash-ups, whether the snail darter, the delta smelt, the California gnatcatcher or the spotted owl.

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