Splitting the Difference on Polar Bears

By May 14, 2008Global Warming

Judging by the comments on an Interior conference call with think tanks, the conservative, free-market types are very skeptical, if not outright hostile to the Department of Interior’s listing of the polar bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

The big government, pro-regulation green types at Think Progress and Climate Progress aren’t jumping for joy, either.

Well, if everyone’s unhappy, then it must be a good decision, right?

Never understood that logic.

Iain Murray at the Competitive Enterprise Institute has what seems to us a sensible analysis:

The listing of the polar bears as threatened is a compromise that shows just how the Endangered Species Act is a bad piece of legislation. 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.

Murray’s colleague, Chris Horner, is less charitable, asking, “The only open question is how a green, might-be-around-for-some-consequences administration will deal with the litigation next year. Fight, or more flight?”

More litigation, that’s always a safe bet.

UPDATE (6:08 p.m.): A good, quick summary story from The New York Times.

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