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For Immediate Release, December 11, 2008


Kassie Siegel, Center for Biological Diversity, cell: (951) 961-7972; ksiegel
Andrew Wetzler, Natural Resources Defense Council, (312) 780-7429; cell: (312) 823-4241;
Jane Kochersperger, Greenpeace, (202) 319-2493; cell: (202) 680-3798

Statement From the Center for Biological Diversity,
Greenpeace, and Natural Resources Defense Council on Bush
Administration's Further Weakening of Protection for the Polar Bear

SAN FRANCISCO— Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced the issuance of a new regulation that further weakens the protections polar bears receive under the Endangered Species Act. The regulation, known as a 4(d) Rule for section 4(d) of the Act, purports to exempt greenhouse gas emissions and oil development, the two leading threats to the bears, from regulation under the Act.

The new regulation is designed to replace the interim final rule the agency issued on May 15th, when the polar bear was first listed as a threatened species. The regulation contains similar exemptions as the earlier 4(d) rule, but is written with broader language to exempt even more actions that threaten the polar bear from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. The original 4(d) rule is subject to an ongoing legal challenge brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Today’s 4(d) regulation specific to the polar bear comes on the same day that Kempthorne announced the finalization of separate rules exempting all greenhouse gas emissions from regulations under other provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

In response, Kassie Siegel, climate program director at the Center for Biological Diversity and lead author of the 2005 petition to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, issued this statement:

“The Bush administration has repackaged the same old lump of coal as a holiday present for the polar bear, and once again handed its friends in the oil industry a huge gift. These regulations seem designed to drive the polar bear extinct.”

Andrew Wetzler, director of the NRDC Endangered Species Project, issued this statement:

"Today's decision reaffirms what the Bush administration has long made clear – they'll use any trick they can in the waning days of this administration to weaken protections for the polar bear and other wildlife and avoid dealing with global warming pollution."

Melanie Duchin, global warming campaigner at Greenpeace USA, issued this statement:

"With just 40 days left until the Bush administration is finally out of office, the Interior Department is trying to put one last nail in the polar bear’s coffin. Exempting global warming and oil development from the list of threats facing polar bears guts the protections that the Endangered Species Act listing should provide.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization with 2.7 million members worldwide that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions for the future.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.


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