Obama may have won over the press at the weekend at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, including poking fun at the Bush Administration, but he has angered his critics by keeping one of the Bush Administration’s policies, which he could have overturned.
At the end of last week, Obama’s Interior Department announced it was keeping a Bush-era policy which gave limited protection to polar bears through the Endangerd Species Act. But the Obama Administration has decided not to widen the Endangered Species Act to include a crack down on the main emitters causing climate change.
According to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the bears will continue to be listed as “threatened,” but the government will not use the 1973 Endangered Species Act to go any further on climate. “The Endangered Species Act is not the proper mechanism for controlling our nation’s carbon emissions,” he said
The ruling outraged scientists and environmentalists alike. Earlier this week, more than 45 law professors wrote an open letter to Salazar urging him to revoke Bush’s rule on polar bears.
“This decision was a litmus test for the Obama administration’s commitment to science-based development of global-warming policy,” said Greenpeace campaigner Ryan Patterson. “They failed miserably.”
“The special rule is a death warrant for the polar bear,” added Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity. “With its sea-ice habitat rapidly disappearing, the polar bear needs the full protection of the Endangered Species Act.”
The oil industry, not surprisingly, welcomed the decision. “The Endangered Species Act is not the proper mechanism for controlling our nation’s carbon emissions,” said American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard.
So did Sarah Palin, who hailed the decision as a “clear victory for Alaska” because it removes the link between bear protection and climate change and should help North Slope oil and gas development.
Obama making Sarah Palin happy: whose the joke on now Mr President?