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Arctic Thaw Pits White Bears Against "Black Gold"

January 10, 2008

Concord, NH - Granite State residents may savor the January thaw, but a year-round warm-up has polar bears on thin ice. With global warming melting the Arctic Ocean, the Bush administration missed yesterday's deadline to decide whether to recognize the big white bears as "endangered." Wildlife activists in New Hampshire and nationwide say it might not have been "just an oversight," but rather politically motivated. Andrew Wetzler with the National Resource Defense Council says the reason may be Arctic oil, because drilling leases are going up for sale next month.

"By delaying this decision for a month, the Mineral Management Service will be able to avoid some legal obligations they would have under the Endangered Species Act if the polar bear had been listed before they sold these lease sales."

All Americans have a stake in acting quickly to protect the bears, according to Wetzler, but it will take additional action to keep the Arctic cold.

"Listing the polar bear, if and when it actually happens, is a very important step. But the ultimate action will be a global warming law."

Wetzler's group and several others are suing the administration to force a decision on the polar bears' status. He says preserving their Arctic habitat keeps this a better world for humans, too.

More information about the polar bear lawsuit is available online at www.nrdc.org.

John Robinson/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - NH