Salazar Says No to the Polar Bear. Balls in Your Court, Congress.

Secretary Salazar's failure to rescind the Bush regulation that prevents the use of the Endangered Species Act to regulate greenhouse gases and protect the polar bear only serves to cement Bush's legacy of ignoring global warming science. It's a regrettable decision that seems to reflect an emerging willingness by the Obama administration to ignore clear scientific imperatives on global warming in the face of industry pressure.

On March 11, 2009, President Obama signed legislation giving Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar the authority to immediately rescind, with the stroke of a pen, two Bush regulations that fundamentally undermine protections for the polar bear and thwart the regulation of greenhouse gas pollution. On April 28, Secretary Salazar rescinded one rule reinstating the consultation process between agencies allowing science a role in decision-making on potential impacts to endangered species.

But today, Secretary Salazar announced that the second regulation would remain in place. This regulation, known as the "polar bear special rule," exempts global warming from the list of threats that the federal government must consider in its efforts to protect the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

While issuing his decision, Salazar said that the Act was not the right place to regulate emissions and that he looks forward to action in Congress. Meanwhile, the only viable climate bill in the House, the Waxman-Markey bill, shows some promise but has significant problems, namely an over reliance on offsets to reduce emissions and billions of wasted dollars for dirty coal.

Now is the time to double our efforts to make sure Congress does what it takes to stop climate change. Our representatives need to hear from us now so we get a bill that meets the challenge before us. The standard needs to be "maximum effort," which means that we must do everything in our power to stop the devastating effects of climate change. Today is a set back, but the fight to save our climate has just begun.

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