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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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An account of events in Washington, D.C., on April 28, 2009, when the Obama administration was overwhelmed with support for restoring the Endangered Species Act to its rightful glory and granting polar bears true protections. Watch our slideshow.

polar bears with petition

On April 28, 2009, the Center, other conservation groups, scientific organizations, and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., gathered on Capitol Hill for a press conference to call on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to rescind the Bush administration’s rules gutting the Endangered Species Act and weakening protections for the polar bear. That day, Secretary Salazar received letters signed by 44 members of the House of Representatives, eight senators, more than 13,000 scientists, and law professors supporting rescinding the rules. The secretary also received a whopping 200,000 citizen petitions gathered by conservation groups, including more than 90,000 petitions from Center supporters.  

Before the press conference began, Center Senior Counsel Bill Snape, joined by two polar bears, delivered to Secretary Salazar our 90,000 petitions to rescind the rules — including a hefty stack of 30,000 paper petitions. Moving on to the scene of the action, the polar bears then entered the hearing room where the press conference was to take place, wandered around, and made themselves at home as more and more people arrived to fill the space.

A highlight of the press conference was certainly a speech by Rep. Raúl Grijalva — a conservationists’ hero in Arizona and beyond for his work to help species and defend public lands. Following a laudatory introduction by the Center, he spoke inspiringly about the impact of the Endangered Species Act, the historic call to protect the polar bear from global warming, and the push to prevent the complete melting of the Arctic ecosystem. When Grijalva concluded the speech, the two polar bears gave him a thankful and furry embrace, complete with nuzzling.

Later that day, earning applause from species-lovers across the country, Secretary Salazar rescinded Bush’s 11th-hour rule that would eviscerate our most important and successful wildlife conservation law, the Endangered Species Act. But in a key omission, he failed to rescind the rule condemning the polar bear to extinction.

Salazar has only until May 9 to rescind the polar bear rule with the stroke of a pen — and you can help spur him to do it by signing our petition to save the polar bear now.

Banner photo © Larry Master/ www.masterimages.org; press conference photo by Cloe Canela