WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today expressed disappointment with the U.S. Department of Interior’s final decision to list the polar bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
“Unfortunately, the decision to list the polar bear as ‘threatened’ appears to be based more on politics than science,” Senator Inhofe said. “With the number of polar bears substantially up over the past forty years, the decision announced today appears to be based entirely on unproven computer models. The decision, therefore, is simply a case of reality versus unproven computer models, the methodology of which has been challenged by many scientists and forecasting experts. If the models are invalid, then the decision based on them is not justified. It’s disappointing that Secretary Kempthorne failed to stand up to liberal special interest groups who advocated this listing.
“Lost in the debate is the fact that polar bear numbers have dramatically increased over the past forty years – a fact even liberal environmental activists are forced to concede. According to Canadian scientists, 11 of the 13 bear populations are stable, with some increasing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now estimates that there are currently 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. These numbers are substantially up from lows estimates in the range of 5,000-10,000 in the 1950s and 1960s. Credit should be given to protection already provided the polar bear by way of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the several international conservation treaties including the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears and the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Conservation and Management Act of 2006, as well as conservation, education, and outreach agreement with native peoples.
“Today’s decision will have far reaching consequences. Liberal special interests have employed hundreds of lawyers to try and convert current environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act into climate laws. Yet the ESA is simply not equipped to regulate economy-wide greenhouse gases, nor does the Fish and Wildlife Service have the expertise to be a pollution control agency. The regulatory tools of the ESA function best when at-risk species are faced with local, tangible threats. Greenhouse gas emissions are not local. The implications of today’s decision, therefore, will undoubtedly lead to a drastic increase in litigation and eager lawyers ready to use this listing to do exactly what they have intended to do all along – shut down energy production.”