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Today the Fish & Wildlife Service agreed to take the first step toward listing the Pacific Walrus as threatened or endangered.  The reason, as with the polar bear, is sea ice disappearing as a result of climate change.  

Walrus dive from sea ice over the shallow outer continental shelf in search of clams. Females and their young traditionally use ice as a moving diving platform, riding it north like a conveyor belt as it recedes in spring and summer, first in the northern Bering Sea, then into the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast.  However, sea ice in the Chukchi Sea receded well beyond the outer continental shelf in 2007 and 2008, over water too deep for walruses to dive to reach clams.  In fall 2007, herds congregated on Alaska and Siberia shores until ice re-formed.

In other words, it's the Piecemeal Polar Bear Rule 4.0.

According to the official F&WS press release/report:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that a petition, filed on February 8, 2008, to list the Pacific walrus as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the Pacific walrus may be warranted. This finding is based, in part, upon projected changes in sea ice habitats associated with climate change. As a result, the Service is initiating a 12-month status review to determine if the species should be proposed for listing and is opening a 60-day public comment period in order to give all interested parties an opportunity to provide information on the status of the Pacific walrus throughout its range.


Environmental groups first sued to force the F&WS to list the polar bear during the Bush error era.  Under near-unanimous agreement from scientists that the polar bear has become the most famous global warming victim, Bush finally agreed to list the polar bear.  Normally the listing would give the EPA the ability to regulate things threatening the animal, which here is greenhouse gases.  Instead of proposing massive regulation of greenhouse gases across America, Bush created the "polar bear rule," effectively limiting the EPA's reach to the polar bear's habitat.  Ohhhkayyy.  Not bright, but expected.  Then this spring, Obama and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that they would follow Bush's polar bear rule, preferring to let climate change legislation (ACES) wend its tortuously slow way through Congress.

No one seriously expects that global warming is affecting the polar bear and no other animal.  Sure enough, the pika is working its petition through F&WS bureaucracy, soon followed by the mist forestfly, an insect being evicted from its only home, Glacier National Park.  And now the Pacific walrus may be joining the list.

The reaction of the new Alaskan governor, Sean Parnell?  He petitioned Salazar to permit more offshore drilling.  Sarah Palin may be gone, but her spirit remains.

If you're interested in taking action:

Information must be submitted by November 9, 2009.
You may submit information by one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: Search for docket FWS-R7-2009-0051and then follow the instructions for submitting comments.
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R7-2009-0051; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

Or you can sign an Earthjustice petition asking Salazar not to drill.

Or we can reconsider the idea of endless litigation by enviro groups (because many, many more petitions have been filed and will be filed as global warming intensifies) leading to piecemeal protection, and instead engage in a comprehensive approach to limiting greenhouse gases.  

Ultimately, global warming does not endanger the polar bear, Pacific walrus, or pika.  It endangers all of us.  We are the walrus.

GreenRoots is a new environmental series created by Meteor Blades and Patriot Daily for Daily Kos. This series provides a forum for discussing, and acting on, all environmental issues.

Originally posted to RLMiller on Tue Sep 08, 2009 at 07:36 PM PDT.

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