The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming announced that it will hold a hearing on January 17 on the future of the polar bear.  On January 8 we noted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had announced a politically suspicious delay in missing a statutory deadline for a ruling on threatened status protection for the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. Committee Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) will question members of the Bush Administration regarding the delay of a decision until after a controversial lease sale for oil drilling off of Alaska.

In the most thorough study to date (required under the Endangered Species Act but necessitating a court order in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups to force the administration to comply),  Interior Department scientists determined that under current trends, disappearing sea ice is projected to lead to a two-thirds drop in the world population of polar bears, resulting in the disappearance of polar bears from Alaska by 2050. See our earlier posts:

January 8, 2008: Fish and Wildlife Service suspicious delay of decision on polar bear threatened status

January 9, 2007: Polar bear decision “a rare case of science actually triumphing over politics”

January 8, 2007: Interior Secretary misrepresented agency report deeming polar bears threatened

December 29, 2006: Polar Bears, Pt 2: “Habitat loss and inadequate regulatory mechanisms to address sea ice recession”

December 28, 2006: Interior Dept. proposal to list polar bear as threatened due to loss of sea ice

House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
2175 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC
9:30 AM, Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hearing: “On Thin Ice: The Future of the Polar Bear”

The hearing will be webcast on the Committee’s Web site.



Mr. Dale Hall
Fish and Wildlife Service

Mr. Randall Luthi
Minerals Management Service

Dr. Steven Amstrup
Polar Bear Team Leader
U.S. Geological Survey


Ms. Jamie Rappaport Clark
Executive Vice President
Defenders of Wildlife

Ms. Deborah Williams
Alaska Conservation Solutions

Ms. Kassie Siegel
Climate, Air and Energy Program
Center for Biological Diversity