Bush Admin Gives Big Oil “Blank Check to Harass the Polar Bear”

from Wildlife Promise

From the Associated Press:

Less than a month after declaring polar bears a threatened species because of global warming, the Bush administration is giving oil companies permission to annoy and potentially harm them in the pursuit of oil and natural gas.

The Fish and Wildlife Service issued regulations this week providing legal protection to seven oil companies planning to search for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea off the northwestern coast of Alaska if “small numbers” of polar bears or Pacific walruses are incidentally harmed by their activities over the next five years. [...]

Exploring in the Chukchi Sea’s 29.7 million acres will require as many as five drill ships, one or two icebreakers, a barge, a tug and two helicopter flights per day, according to the government. Oil companies will also be making hundred of miles of ice roads and trails along the coastline.

The National Wildlife Federation was already suspicious of the Bush administration’s commitment to protecting polar bears. Now the Center for Biological Diversity calls this decision “a blank check to harass the polar bear in the Chukchi Sea.”