This past Monday, California Senator Barbara Boxer chaired a hearing on why the United States Department of the Interior had failed to make the decision on whether to list the bear. The hearing was a classic of the genre: "Experts" testified on the peril confronting the polar bear, and Boxer and others declaimed on the need for the feds to get off the dime and list the animal.
As I noted a fortnight ago, the listing of the bear is just the first step in an elaborate dance that will result in the imposition of extraordinarily expensive and delay-inducing permitting requirements on any industrial or commercial activity that (1) requires a federal permit of any sort and (2) emits greenhouse gases.
But don't believe me. Believe the proponents of the listing. In a candid and detailed statement of the objectives behind the listing push, the Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming at the National Wildlife Federation, John Kostyack, and Professor Dan Rohlf of the Lewis & Clark Law School have laid out the potential far-reaching impacts of a listing. Their article, "Conserving Species in an Era of Global Warming," appeared in the most recent issue of the Environmental Law Reporter. It should be read by anyone who relies on a federal permit to go about their business, whether that business is oil exploration, gasoline refining, road construction, farming, grazing, mining or home building. Kostyack and Rohlf first review what they see to be the climate change perils confronting many species, including the polar bear, and then chart how the Federal Endangered Species Act ("FESA") could be brought to bear upon the issue of global warming via the section of the FESA that compels "consultations" between any part of the federal government proposing to issue a permit that could impact a threatened or endangered species and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: