Rhetoric heating up over global warming in cool places; polar bear litigation taking shape
We knew it was coming.
Even before the U.S. District Court Judge demanded a decision by May 15, wildlife watchers knew that the debate over the fate of the polar bear would lead to years of litigation. See ESAblawg (March 2, 2008) on polar bears as a policy proxy, and ESAblawg (April 29, 2008) on the U.S. District Court decision.
The battle lines of that forthcoming Endangered Species Act lawsuit continue to take shape in the news.
Photo of polar bear from NOAA, available online from the Government of Western Australian
To continue the ESA musing...
Environmentalists motivated the U.S. District Court to order the imminent decision. But even if those environmentalists are satisfied with the result of that court order, the Pacific Legal Foundation accounced its plans to sue the Federal government if the polar bear is listed as an threatened species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. See Sacramento Bee article. Relatedly, the Business and Media Institute is reporting that the "Polar bear scare could maul energy production," declaring the environmental advocates for the listing of the great white predator to be "global warming alarmists." In support for their opposition to a polar bear listing, these groups will unquestionably turn to the uncertainty of the science, such as the recent article by Science Daily declaring Federal polar bear research to be critically flawed.
Meanwhile, the advocates for polar bear listing, such as the National Wildlife Federation, and the World Wildlife Fund, will adopt the precautionary principle. Rather than taking chances on uncertain science, only to lead to extinctions and catastrophe, these groups will argue that the sound stewardship necessitates protective measures.
Whatever decision FWS makes, the agency -- not to mention the poor DOJ lawyer or two who have to defend any decision the FWS makes -- will soon have their hands full with an ESA lawsuit of truly historic (and global) proportions.