Listing the Polar Bear Under the ESA Could Spell Disaster

From Peyton Knight:

In reaction to the Bush Administration’s deliberation over whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Andrew Wetzler claims: “There’s no reason for them not to finalize that decision now.”

There are big reasons, one of which may explain the NRDC’s zeal for a rush to judgment.

The polar bear population has doubled since 1965, from 10,000 to 20,000-25,000 today. Even the World Wildlife Fund, which advocates listing the bear, in 2006 said there are “at least 22,000 polar bears worldwide” and “the general status of polar bears is currently stable.”

Further, listing the bear could spawn lawsuits and impose economy-crippling restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. Because the ESA makes it a crime to “harm” a listed animal or its habitat, environmentalists could sue any public or private entity that emits CO2, which, they claim, causes global warming and harms the bear. NRDC and others already have successfully sued under the ESA to stop everything from military training to cattle ranching.

Listing the polar bear would benefit environmental activists, but would raise energy costs for consumers and harm our economy, while providing few if any benefits to the bears.

To contact author Peyton Knight directly, write him at [email protected]

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