Judge: U.S. erred on polar bear status

Oct. 17, 2011 at 10:50 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ruled the government erred when it excluded the impact of greenhouse gases in deciding the extent of protection offered for polar bears.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District of Columbia said the failure of the George W. Bush administration to undertake an environmental review before it issued its special rule on polar bears in 2008 was sufficiently serious to send the issue to a new review, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The ruling came in a suit filed by wildlife advocacy groups who said greenhouse gas emissions -- and global warming -- were a threat to the bears' survival.

The judge's ruling was something of a split decision as he also ruled it's up to the discretion of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's to decide how far it will go to protect threatened species, The Boston Globe reported.

Still, environmentalists saw the ruling as a victory.

"This shows that it is an unacceptable practice for the government to freeze out science and environmental review," said Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey, the senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, as he called on the Obama administration to launch a review.

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