In 2008, the polar bear was added to the endangered species list, the first listing attributed primarily to climate change. But included in the Bush administration decision was a special rule exempting human activities that cause greenhouse gas pollution, such as carbon dioxide from industrial plants, from ever being considered a violation of the Endangered Species Act as long as the activities are outside the bears' range.
This exemption, called the 4(d) rule, negates the usual protections provided by the Endangered Species Act, leaving the bear without new safeguards to address its threatened status.
How We’re Helping
On October 17, 2011, in response to a lawsuit brought by Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace, a federal judge struck down the Bush administration rule. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the Department of the Interior violated provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act when it issued a special rule, without proper environmental review, that excluded activities from regulation if they occurred outside the range of the polar bear, such as greenhouse gas emissions from big polluters like coal plants.
Where We Are Today
The government must now go back and undertake a full environmental analysis  of the situation of the polar bear before issuing a new final rule on what must be done to prevent its disappearance from the U.S.