Bush polar bear rule stands
Salazar won't expand protection
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration yesterday let stand a Bush-era regulation that limits protection of the polar bear from global warming, saying that a US law protecting endangered species should not be used to take on the much broader issue of climate change.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that he will not rescind the Bush rule, although Congress gave him authority to do so. The bear was declared threatened under the Endangered Species Act a little over a year ago, because global warming is harming its habitat.
Salazar said rescinding the Bush rule "would provide no more protection for the polar bear and result in uncertainty and confusion about the management of the species."
The iconic polar bear was declared a threatened species because global warming is causing a severe decline in Arctic sea ice. But the Bush administration rules limit that protection.
Environmentalists say that in the case of the polar bear, the biggest threat comes from pollution, mainly carbon dioxide from faraway power plants, factories and cars, that is warming the Earth.
Salazar disagreed that the federal law should be used to address climate change.