E & E News, October 6, 2009
Find out more from the Center for Biological Diversity:
Groups plan lawsuit to force penguin listing
By Patrick Reis, E & E reporter
Two advocacy groups announced plans today to sue the Obama administration
unless it reverses a Bush-era decision denying penguins a place on the
endangered species list.
The Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration
Network say Antarctica's emperor penguin -- protagonist of the documentary "March of the Penguins" -- and two species of rockhopper penguin face
extinction from the dual threats of climate change and industrial fishing.
The Interior Department in December contested that notion, saying impacts
from global warming on penguins were too uncertain to merit an Endangered
Species Act listing.
The groups said today that they would sue in 60 days unless the Fish and
Wildlife Service -- the Interior agency that deals with endangered species
-- reverses that decision and reopens a review of the penguins' status.
"If the Obama administration is serious about restoring scientific integrity
to government decision-making, it will stand behind the sound science
showing that global warming is threatening the emperor penguin and protect
this species before it's too late," said Shaye Wolf, a biologist with the
Center for Biological Diversity.
Fish and Wildlife declined to comment on the announcement.
Listing penguins would require Interior to set strict regulations for the
U.S. longline fishing fleet in the Antarctic, whose gear can entangle and
drown penguins, Wolf said.
The groups also hope the listing would bolster the link between species
protections and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Penguins' sea ice
habitat is melting because of global warming, which also threatens some of
the fish and krill populations the seabirds depend on, Wolf said.
In this and other attempts to garner federal protection for species
threatened by global warming, environmental groups have argued that
protecting those species requires the federal government to regulate carbon
When listing the polar bear, the Bush administration published a special
rule prohibiting endangered species reviews from taking greenhouse gas
emissions into account. The rule was later upheld by the Obama
administration, but environmental groups are hoping to reverse it through
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