If Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne announces that the polar bear is now officially “threatened,” the impacts on the American economy will be extreme and almost certainly not anticipated or understood by the public at large.
The Endangered Species Act operates in a very unaccountable fashion, and if the polar bear is listed as a “threatened” species, every federal action –the grant of a permit, the award of a grant– that leads even indirectly to the emission of greenhouse gases will come under at least the theoretical review of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA. MSM continues to report the controversy as though its impact will be limited to the arctic region, when in fact it is as likely to delay or destroy economic activity in any part of the lower 48 as it is in Alaska.
The immediate response of impacted industries and consumers should be a series of test cases to force the delineation of the reach of the Act’s application to the polar bear and the gases allegedly causing the destruction of its ice habitat, test cases brought in jurisdictions most reasonable on such matters. Allowing the ESA to slowly ensnare industries previously unregulated by its commands via suits in jurisdictions cheryy-picked by environmental activists would be the worst possible result.
UPDATE: The bear is listed. We are all officially polar bear predators now.