Reuters is reporting that the Bush administration has been ordered to rule whether polar bears are a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, with global warming impacts as the major factor, by May 15:
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs -- the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace -- finding the U.S. government broke the law by missing the deadline for a polar bear decision by four months.
The Interior Department, which has responsibility for the decision, was supposed to issue a decision in January but postponed that for a month. Most recently, it asked for a delay until June 30 so its lawyers could finish reviewing and revising the decision.
Wilken denied this request.
"Defendants offer no specific facts that would justify the existing delay, much less further delay," she said.
We've previously covered the polar bear situation, as well as the Bush administration's more recent hyperbolic claims about the Endangered Species Act-- perhaps they saw this ruling coming down the pike? At any rate, the general thrust of the Interior Department's overarching position here should, sadly, be familiar to readers by now:
Interior Department officials have acknowledged that the science on the polar bear's future is not in doubt but have said that any plan to remove the threat to the animals' existence would be complicated, since climate change is a global phenomenon rather than a particular limited area with a specific problem.