For Immediate Release, March 7, 2007

Contacts: Kieran Suckling, (520) 275-5960
Kassie Siegel, (760) 366-2232 x 302 (office), (951) 961-7972 (cell)

Bush-Cheney Administration Issues Polar Bear Gag Order
Conservation Group Decries Censorship of Global Warming Science

ANCHORAGE, Alaska– Today the Center for Biological Diversity denounced a Bush administration directive restricting the ability of government scientists traveling abroad to discuss global warming, sea ice, and polar bears. The memo requires employees traveling in situations where these topics could arise to submit a statement of assurance that the employee understands “the administration’s position on these issues,” and will not be speaking on, or responding to, questions about them.

“This is positively Orwellian,” said Kieran Suckling, policy director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Only the worst cynic could admit the polar bear is being driven extinct by global warming, then issue a gag order to stop government scientists from talking about it.”

On December 27, 2006, the administration was forced to propose listing the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act due to a petition and subsequent lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC, and Greenpeace. The proposal authored by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists concluded that the Arctic is rapidly warming, causing the polar bear’s sea-ice habitat to melt away. Scientific models predict that in a matter of decades, all summer ice could be gone.

A 90-day public comment period on the proposal is open until April 9, 2007. The third of three scheduled public hearings is occurring this evening in Barrow, Alaska. A final listing decision is due by January 9, 2008.

“The administration should be embarrassed by public discussion of global warming, sea ice, and polar bears, since its own do-nothing approach to the climate crisis is the single-greatest threat to the survival of the polar bear,” said Kassie Siegel, climate program director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead of censoring government scientists, however, the administration should start doing something about greenhouse gas pollution.”

Leading climate scientists warn that just ten more years of continued greenhouse gas emissions trajectories will make it difficult, if not impossible, to avoid rapid warming that would raise sea level by 20 feet or more and result in the extinction of up to one third of the planet’s species, including the polar bear. The Bush-Cheney administration has blocked readily available solutions such as improved energy efficiency, increased automotive fuel economy, and increased use of renewable energy that would protect the world’s climate and species like the polar bear as well as benefit the economy.

Kieran Suckling
Policy Director
Center for Biological Diversity
Tucson, AZ 85702
(520) 623-5252 x305

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