Maybe that whole “turning green” stunt worked after all: The U.S. Interior Department will protect critical areas of polar bear habitat from oil drilling within the next two years. While the polar bear was placed on the Endangered Species list back in May, the government failed to designate any areas for protection. The designation is part of a legal settlement with environmental groups who filed suit on behalf of the polar bear.
“You can’t protect a species without protecting the place where it lives,” said Kassie Siegel, a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the three groups who sued the Bush administration to secure the designation. “After global warming, oil development is the biggest threat to polar bears.”
Interior Department officials have until June 30, 2010 to designate critical habitat for polar bears, which will keep potential oil spills as well as habitat intrusion by boats, drilling platforms, and aircraft away from the threatened bruins.
Getting designated protected land for the polar bear is only half the battle, though: Environmental groups are still grappling with the federal government in hopes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to polar-bear enemy #1—global warming.
To push that initiative through, maybe polar bears should turn colors again—perhaps red this time.
— Ted Alvarez