February 25, 2009

polar bear rider faces most opposition

By polar bear rider faces most opposition

Although the spending bill that is set to go before Congress would give President Obama and the Interior Department authority to jettison both the new polar bear 4(d) rule and the Section 7 consultation rule, "[t]he option option for Interior to throw out the polar bear rule is generating the most ire among Republicans," according to the New York Times.

Assuming that this spending bill passes Congress, taking these riders out of the bill will have to occur in the Senate, if it is to happen at all: "The spending bill is up for consideration in the House today under a rule that does not allow for any amendments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he will allow some amendments as the Senate considers the bill within the next week."

Even if Interior eventually reverses the Bush administration and gets rid of the 4(d) rule, which (as we noted previously) "basically states that no proposed project that would increase greenhouse gas emissions can, for that reason alone, trigger consultation requirements under Section 7 or otherwise incur take liability under Section 9," the Times reports that

it remains unclear whether Salazar would make any attempt to use the bear as a means to achieve greenhouse gas restrictions. In a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month, Salazar said there is "no doubt" that climate change is having an impact on wildlife but dodged a question on whether he might use the Endangered Species Act to control the greenhouse gas emissions.

"The role that the ESA will play in that is something that we will take a look at, but I don't have a specific answer for you today," said Salazar.

If in fact there is a role for the ESA to play in climate change, that role should be determined by lawmakers in Congress, not the executive branch.  For more, visit KTVA.com, which reports on Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowsi's opposition to the riders:

"Inserting a rider with far-reaching policy implementations for climate change and energy production without the slightest bit of debate is not good public policy," Murkowski said. "This would remove transparency and public scrutiny from the process of regulating greenhouse gas emissions."

"I believe we must act to curb emissions, but this would grant some of the most aggressive in the environmental community the ability to use the courts to block economic development across the country," Murkowski said. . . .

"The Endangered Species Act was never intended to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. This type of misuse of the law ultimately undermines public support for the act itself," Murkowski said. "If we allow this change, it is only a matter of time before the environmental community uses lawsuits to reduce the quality of our way of life."

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