Big Oil Harassing Polar Bears: The Fight Continues

By Melissa Lafsky | July 10, 2008 10:11 am

polar bearFollowing the Bush Administration’s authorizing oil companies to “annoy and potentially harm” polar bears in order search for oil and natural gas, two conservation groups have struck back, suing the government for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the law intended to protect the bears and their habitat.

The suit was filed in an Alaskan federal court by the Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Environment, an environmental action group that hasn’t been shy about suing Big Oil in the past. This time, the named defendants are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. In an interesting twist, Fish and Wildlife spokesman Bruce Woods offered a spin on why letting oil companies tear up Alaskan wilderness is actually good for the animals there:

“Our biologists feel this regulation program is a valuable conservation tool,” Woods said. “The companies have to report every sighting [of polar bears or Pacific walruses] and what measures they took to avoid disturbing the animals and what the response was. They give us information on the location and actions of the animals that we might not otherwise have.”

So there you have it! Bringing tankers, aircraft, drilling platforms, and possible oil spills into the Arctic is in fact providing valuable research data! So now at least we’ll know where the animals were located before we drove them to extinction.


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