Fossil Men Refuse to Go Quietly

A polar bear swims recently in open water off the coast of Alaska. The shrinking sea ice increases the pressure on polar bears, who usually hunt on the ice.

A polar bear swims recently in open water off the coast of Alaska. The shrinking sea ice increases the pressure on polar bears, who usually hunt on the ice. (By Geoff York — World Wildlife Fund)

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 31, 2008

CHICAGO — The American Petroleum Institute and four other business groups filed suit Thursday against Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall, joining Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration in trying to reverse the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species.

On Aug. 4, the state of Alaska filed a lawsuit opposing the polar bear’s listing, arguing that populations as a whole are stable and that melting sea ice does not pose an imminent threat to their survival. The suit says polar bears have survived warming periods in the past. The federal government has 60 days from the filing date to respond.

One of the plaintiff in Thursday’s lawsuit, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), lauded the choice of Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee for reasons including her advocacy of Alaskan oil and gas exploration, which many fear could be affected by the bear’s protected status.

NAM and the petroleum institute were joined in the lawsuit by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association and the American Iron and Steel Institute. They object to what they call the “Alaska Gap” in relation to the special rule the federal government issued in May in conjunction with the polar bear’s protected status. The rule, meant to prevent the polar bear’s status from being used as a tool for imposing greenhouse gas limits, exempts projects in all states except Alaska from undergoing review in relation to emissions.

NAM Vice President Keith McCoy said the group sees the rule as unfairly subjecting Alaskan industry to greenhouse gas controls and also opening a back door for greenhouse gas regulation nationwide.

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