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The Polar Bear Pincers On Productivity

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Yesterday’s listing of the polar bear as “threatened” was accompanied by Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne’s assurances that the listing would not be allowed to be manipulated to regulate greenhouse gas emissions throughout the U.S.

This was false hope dressed up as “guidance.” The law is the law, and the Endangered Species Act is very specific about how federal actions that could harm a protected species are to be treated, and the criminal penalties for those who ignore the ESA’s commands. Very quickly the environmental activists served notice that they would be using the ESA to stop greenhouse gas emissions. From USA Today’s coverage:

Kassie Siegel, a lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the group does not accept Kempthorne’s view.

The act requires federal agencies to take steps to reduce or eliminate those impacts on threatened species, she said. “There is no exemption for greenhouse gas emissions.”

If the government fails to address global warming, “we can and will go to court to enforce the law,” she said.

I am writing a column on a legal strategy that should be deployed to blunt the almost certain blizzard of litigation that the environmental groups will launch to force review of all greenhouse gas emission operations that rely on new federal permits. For the moment, though, the advocates of Kyoto-style command-and-control regulation of gases tied to climate change have won an enormous victory.

UPDATE: An e-mail on where the first wave of ESA-polar bear litigation could hit:

Hugh,
I just heard on the podcast your request for a pilot to let you know about FAA involvement in private aircraft certification. The short answer is that the FAA is HEAVILY involved in the approval and certification of all things aviation. Every aircraft design must be certified by the FAA before the manufacturer may sell it, and then every single airplane that rolls off the production line must have an FAA-issued Airworthiness Certificate and an FAA Registration Certificate before it can ever leave the ground. The environmental groups will have no trouble tying aircraft to the polar bear now that it is on the Endangered Species List.
Here’s another one: Nearly all small, propeller driven aircraft in the world use high octane, LEADED GASOLINE. How easy will it be to connect the burning of leaded fuels to global warming? That alone could devastate the thousands of businesses that rely on small aircraft to conduct their operations, i.e. flight schools, sight-seeing, air-freight, air-taxi’s, etc. This is very serious.
Hope that helps. Keep up the good work.

Hughniverse

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