Conservatives on the Polar Bear Ruling

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: May 14, 2008 3:45 PM

Awww: Just because they're cute doesn't make them endangered.

Iain Murray, author the "Really Inconvenient Truths" points out that the allowances for oil exploration and limitations of ESA's jurisdiction the secretary included in the ruling won't last long:
The Secretary was compelled to make a listing he clearly didn't want to make and that comes with all sorts of foreseeable detrimental consequences of exactly the sort I describe in my book.  In an effort to obviate those consequences, the Secretary has attempted to erect some barriers that will have all the legislative strength of tissue paper.  It will take just a few seconds of a new administration to blow through them and bring about the dire consequences Sec. Kempthorne has obviously foreseen.  The ESA needs to be reformed for all sorts of reasons that I discuss in the book, but this is perhaps the most urgent now. 
Here are some of the caveats Sec. Kempthorne included:

Kempthorne said, “Listing the polar bear as threatened can reduce avoidable losses of polar bears. But it should not open the door to use of the ESA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants, and other sources.”

To prevent the environmental lobby from using this listing as a means to prevent domestic energy development Kempthorne proposed a rule to allow this type of activity in the area if it is permissible under standards dictated by the Mammal Protection Act.

This rule has not been adopted.



Kevin Hassett of AEI on the far-reaching, litigious consequences of the designation:

The first is the possible wide geographic reach of the global warming argument. The snail darter almost killed a single dam. The polar bear could, in theory at least, stop everything.

Suppose someone wants to build a coal-burning power plant in Florida. Environmentalists might challenge the construction on the grounds that the plant will emit greenhouse gases leading to global warming and an increased threat to polar bears.

The problem with speculative categorization of polar bears as endangered based on speculations of global warming results based on laregly speculative studies is that none of it may actually be true or even caused by global warming:
An October 2007 NASA study concluded that changing wind patterns are responsible for sea ice loss. New wind patterns have compressed sea ice and moved it into the Transpolar Drift Stream which has taken the ice to lower latitudes where it has melted.
The whole thing makes domestic oil exploration and production a lot harder:

The classification would open the door for environmentalists to challenge any new forms of energy production -- including oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) or new power plants and factories that emit fossil fuels. It also would jeopardize a highly promising arrangement in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, which contains an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Now is not the time to cut back on domestic oil production. With gas prices soaring to nearly $4 per gallon in some parts of the country, there’s hardly been a better time to embark on energy exploration in the United States to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Liberal logic requires that we list an animal as endangered when its population is thriving:
At present, polar bear populations are robust and, according to native people, are considerably larger than they were in previous decades.[29] Predictions of polar bear endangerment are based on two sets of computer models: one set predicts how much Arctic sea ice will melt as a result of global warming, and the other predicts how polar bear populations will respond. But computer models of climate are known to be fraught with problems, and the ecological models used to predict polar bear response are equally limited.