Politics trumps science: Obama upholds Bush Administration's rollback of the Endangered Species Act in polar bear decision

Decision shocks environmentalists, brings glee to the hearts of industry responsible for climate change

The Obama Administration upheld Bush’s industry-friendly, obstructionist interpretation of the Endangered Species Act when Obama’s rancher Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, issued a decision refusing to consider ESA regulation of carbon emissions, the chief threat to the listed Polar Bear.

No global warming crackdown for polar bearsLas Angeles Times

Energy industry groups celebrated Friday, as did many Republicans.

“The Endangered Species Act is not the proper mechanism for controlling our nation’s carbon emissions,” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute.

Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, praised Salazar for “a common-sense decision that will ensure more jobs are not lost due to excessive regulations of greenhouse gases by the government.”

Department of Interior’s News Release – Anyone else notice how Obama’s Interior has a habit of issuing these things on Friday (end of the news cycle) just like Bush ?  The Obama decision to uphold Bush’s politicized wolf delisting rule was made public on a Friday too …

This is an entirely political decision made on entirely political grounds.  What happened to Obama’s promise to uphold science over politics with his Administration’s decisions ?

President Obama’s Interior : If it looks like a Bush, sounds like a Bush, and acts like a Bush … …




  1. Jim Avatar

    I have said it before and I will say it again. Did anyone really expect “change” when Obama got elected? A politician is a politician. The only difference is the rhetoric, and the reality is that everything pretty much stays the same.

  2. Mike Avatar

    It may be time to send Salazar packing.

    What a JOKE.

  3. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I agree Mike. Complete joke. Will we actually get change?

  4. kt Avatar

    Brian! I nearly spilled my evening libations all over the computer keyboard — when I opened your “if it looks like a Bush” Link. Salazar looks like some wax museum caricature of a cowboy auctioneer heading to Las Vegas, or something …

    It sure seems that Obama and Salazar are out to make the ESA meaningless – just like Bush … Just wait ’til we see the butchering of pubic lands coming out of the Energy Bill. It will be Reckless Renewables uber alles.

  5. kt Avatar

    Oh, and I just found a Basin and Range Watch Post on Salazar and Reckless Renewables:


    Yep. Maybe it’ll be a new color in the next deluxe Crayola crayon box:
    Salazar Green.

    Kind of induces vertigo just thinking of it. In the color palette right beside, and complementary to, cow $#@*& brown.

  6. Craig Avatar

    You all seem surprised!!!!! One thing in the Universe that does stay constant , Politics=who greases the hand that feeds them! Doesn’t matter what party they all are in it for the MONEY? How hard is to realize that 99% of these assholes don’t care? Greed is the top political motivator!!!

  7. kim kaiser Avatar
    kim kaiser

    Someone above said “It may be time to send Salazar packing”
    why not just send Team Hussein packing??!! He is the boss you know and he did say he would put science above politics,,,!!

    Yall s boy and his lackies just keeps on coming with the hits!!!!

    Whoever voted for Hussein as a statement simply against bush et al, just didnt use there minds, would mcain have been better, who knows,, but you surely have gotten fleeced now,,,feeling foolish yet??

    lets see,,
    1> delisted wolf, following prior admin policies,
    2> allows uranium mining in Grand Canyon,
    3> put a mississippi forestry pro cut man in as blm/forest service appointee
    4>Polar bear protections diminished
    5>will continue will charges against the idiot that bid on Utah federal lands in an attempt to thwart drilling.

    tomorow is what Saturday, what program will he up hold tomorrow that follows bushes pro busines policy,


    WAKE UP FOLKS,,, !!!!!!

  8. kt Avatar

    Craig –

    Au contraire. No one is surprised. Look at the ranching outfit.

    Anyone with one of them thar ultraclean c’boy ten gallon hats, a bolo tie, and a simpering grin is up to no good. Not to mention the pathetic environmental record that Salazar has had all along. He is doing exactly what many of us commenting on this Blog predicted he would do; Be a mindless pawn of industry. Make a few minor gestures towards some piddling change – but all in all riproar on with the horrible environmental polices of the Bush Admin.

  9. frank Avatar

    I can only assume that someone who says “Hussein” also means it when they say “boy”. You are “interesting”.

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think what happened is that candidate Obama didn’t and doesn’t know much about the issues of the West, especially the Interior West.

    The polls show “intelligent” is about the most common description those polled say about him, and he is on so many issues, but not on these.

    When most Presidents, or other politicians know that they don’t know much about a policy area, they seek out some trusted political friends to fill them in, give them advice, and even set policies.

    I think that’s what Obama has done, only friends like Harry Reid are not to be trusted to represent the bulk of us who live in the West.

  11. kim kaiser Avatar
    kim kaiser


    i give hussein the same level of respect that this forum gave the bush administration,,

    all you have to do is go back over the years and see all the derogatory comments, suggestions, inuendo made about bush etal,, and when you can say there were none,

    He’s yalls “boy” by that i mean he is your man, you put him there, and when i have had enough of him, you will see it, and i will be banned, but, until then, well, he is your boy/man, and you have to live with the disappointment of what you put there,,,like the old bumperstickers used to say, Dont blame me!!

  12. frank Avatar

    Did you answer my comment? No. Which is more racist, saying “Hussein” or “boy”? I guess neither bothers you.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Your comments would be more convincing, I think, without name calling.

  14. JimT Avatar

    I left for awhile because of Kim’s racist comments, and I come back a month later, and he/she is STILL at it. I guess it is true what my brother says about the South…still fighting the Civil War, and he has been living in SC for nearly 25 years now.
    Seriously, Ralph, I believe in free speech as much as the next person, but the tone of the comments is making this blog less than what it used to be.. a forum for free exchange of ideas, even contentious at times, but rarely this kind of base behavior. Can’t you, as owner of this blog, have a talk with Kim privately and reach some sort of agreement to avoid the racist stuff?

    As far as Salazar goes…saw all this coming during the fight on the Hill between the Salazar and Grijalva camps, and I expect more hits to come, especially on the ESA issues. Ken All Hat Salazar has NEVER been a supporter of ESA issues, or habitat issues for that matter. And while I agree that the ESA isn’t the perfect tool to handle global climate change, untill the Feds..hell, the world..comes up with a coordinated effort across all the media to address the effects of climate change on the environment (not any time soon), you use the tools you have in the ways they were meant to be applied by Congress when they were passed.
    By the time that happens, polar bears will be history, and their survival will depend on breeding zoos. Sad.

  15. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I give people hints and sometimes warn them privately. Sometimes they just find that they can’t post anymore.

  16. JimT Avatar

    Sounds like a prudent and fair approach to use, and that adult can make a choice and be accountable.

  17. kt Avatar

    Just think of this. The Big Enviro groups, Harry Reid, Salazar and their ilk keep telling us that unless we build solar plants on old growth Mojave, or wind farms that obliterate old growth sagebrush in remote plateuas, and string transmission lines through every valley in the interior west, we won’t be able to save the polar bears.

    Their “solution” to saving the polar bears is destroying the deserts of the American West. This is nothing but a public lands grab, energy corporations and LLCs galore (covering up for often the same old big energy players, foreign interests, and investment speculation and scheming. Basin and Range Watch has a good post on Salazar and Reid at work trumpeting laying waste to the West through stimulus dollars:


    Green-Energy Cowboy Salazar Opens “Energy Frontier”

    You gotta love Harry and his spear, too … Maybe he’ll trip and spear that great big ten-gallon hat of Salazar’s.

  18. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Kim Kaiser,
    The Forest Service is in the Department of Agriculture, BLM in the Department of Interior. Thus your statement needs correcting: “mississippi forestry pro cut man in as blm/forest service appointee”.

  19. Layton Avatar


    Where would YOU put the solar facilities that seem to be needed?? Nuclear seems to be a bad word, hydro won’t do cuz’ it too takes public land — do you have any sort of a solution in mind??

    Or do you even agree there is a problem??

  20. Brian Ertz Avatar

    I think your point is remarkably prudent.

    The bigger groups (and many smaller ones too), as well as Salazar with his “moon shot” to turn our public lands into moon-scapes, have been telling us these giant earth-blasting “Renewable” projects are necessary to fight climate change – but they don’t mitigate climate change at all, because they don’t mitigate carbon emissions that are happening now – they don’t lead to any decommissioned coal plants or any decrease in carbon-fuel consumption – and now, the Obama Administration has just hamstrung one of the most promising and forceful regulations that might have actually mitigated carbon emissions in a real and direct way.

    What are these big green groups doing in Washington ? NRDC, Defenders, Sierra Club ? What’s up guys ? Has your silence on the Salazar nomination borne fruit ?

    They’re getting their “new energy economy” and all the fat foundational grants that accompany it – and our children will know fewer pristine public lands – but in a remarkably predictable twist of fate, the silence the “renewable” energy industry’s dirty money has secured from these establishment “Greens” is undercutting the very carbon-reducing initiative for which that integrity was supposed to traded away for – and Big Coal & Big Oil sigh a dirty carbon-laden breath of relief …

  21. JB Avatar

    Frankly, the problem is that most people don’t stop to think that coal-fired power plants need to be decommissioned in order to have a net loss in CO2 produced via energy production. In fact, I would bet that most Americans think Obama is the greenest of the green in pushing for so hard for more renewables. Furthermore, who gets pissed about building renewables on public lands? Not many; a few democrats in states that ALWAYS vote Republican and a few of the “enlightened” living elsewhere. Not much an incentive for them to take on big energy.

  22. JB Avatar

    Sorry, I’m feeling old and cynical today.

  23. John Avatar

    This is puzzling, how can carbon dioxide that makes up less than 4 parts per million of the atmosphere, be controlled by mankind. If we stopped fossil fuel use for the next 100 years. It would make no appreciable difference in levels of carbon in the atmosphere. If in that time something natural like volcanoes erupt it would put more carbon in the atmosphere that we do. Water vapor makes up 75% of greenhouse gases anyway so why all the sky os falling over carbon. Chemistry taught me carbon was the very builing blocks of life. Besides too late anyway we are already heading into global cooling National Geographic just confirmed it. There are now 70 plus days out of the first 90 days of this year that there have been no sun flares and the sun is the dimmest it has been in centuries. So maybe the earth is in one of those ebbing cycles that we do have data about. Humans passing laws to try control the climate is audatious( foolish even). What will people want to change next?

  24. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    KKKaiser….three things for you

    1) “BLAME HUSSEIN” wouldn’t be considered a rhyme. Let me explain. It would have to be BLANE HUSSEIN or BLAME HUSSEIM.

    2) What is a “Hippocrite”. Possilbly a new species of animal?

    3) You are neither clever, original, nor intelligent.

  25. Layton Avatar


    She IS consistant, a quality that, so far at any rate, Saint Obama has not demonstrated. 8)

  26. kt Avatar

    What is even worse – and makes any utterances by Salazar, Reid et al. ring even more hollow: Go to the link to the Alaska newspaper article that Demarcated Landscapes has at this post on the Salazar polar bear climate circus


    In the Alaska paper, you will see that Salazar wants to spend more $$$ to process Oil and Gas leases – in polar bear habitat in the melting Arctic! I kind you not.

  27. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.


    I think we’re all aware of KKKaiser’s “consistency”, which in his/her case is nothing to be proud of.

  28. Brian Ertz Avatar


    I’ll speak for myself, but I do believe that human beings have an appreciable impact on the atmosphere (carbon, methane, CFCs, mercury, particulates, etc.) and that when unbridled, those impacts threaten both the biosphere (reduction of diversity of life, health, temperature), as well as our health and quality of life.

    When I sat with my family and watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth for the first time, what struck me most had little to do with the particular figures and factoids (though they are important and undeniable) – what struck me most is that a message of our undeniable and urgent human impact to the natural world had finally broken through and that perhaps a new collective and democratic awareness would be able to compete with all the money and political power that Big Energy, Big Auto, and Big Ag brought to bare. I had hope that this new awareness would confront an American atmosphere emersed in the gross human ambition and exploitative mindset stoked by a deeply cynical, industry apologist Bush Administration. I had hope that this new awareness & confrontation would ameliorate into a paused political introspection that would accept the inter-relatedness of our human endeavor with the natural systems upon which we (and everything we collectively value) depend (which includes atmosphere, but also land, water, and the ecological systems of diverse life) and recognize that the uninhibited, overstretched and over-ambitious relationship we have toward the natural world is not sustainable.

    In short, I had hoped that the urgency and gravity of climate change would foster Restraint. The truth of this message that I had hoped was emerging is far more fundamental than any particular ratio of carbon in the atmosphere – or mercury in the fish one catches to feed one’s family.

    I was wrong – you and I who had hoped for anything near the Restraint described are all wrong.

    Whatever promise of Restraint and willingness to make the tough choices that will leave our children a world more sustainably inhabited have been eclipsed by the same unfettered human ambition that dug this hole (whether the hole is climate, simplified/bankrupt ecological systems upon which we depend, clean water, diverse wildlife, or any number of other things that characterize a sustainable world). We are told now that the same seed of human excess that fueled our demise will save us from it – technological innovation developed and deployed on massive scales – with the caveat that to do so in time to remedy the climate crisis, we must suspend and/or expedite the best know actualizations of human Restraint (what would have and still will, if we let it, save us from this and other messes far more quickly and lastingly) – NEPA, ESA, etc. (all passed under Nixon with a Democratic Congress willing to lean in – btw) – provisions to dilute and ignore the best principles and realizations of our political/human relationship to the natural world are being considered in Congress right now. Human ambition has never served the natural world – with the exception of it’s codification as human Restraint (ESA, NEPA, etc.). Just as we depend on the atmosphere, so too we depend on water, natural systems, landscapes – our lives are enriched by the natural world in a way that we can never replicate for our children with human innovation. The ambitious path, the path of excess, promises growth, ease, and avoided confrontation with the gravity of the root of the problem – all ensured by the anasthestic of massive energy development (albeit “Renewable”), many such developements to take place on lands that belong to you and me – on lands that host wildlife and natural systems that store and purify water, air, spiritual experience, wonder, views, solitude, scientific inquiry, that place where you and your father shared the purity of the experience of the wild ~ of creation in all its expression ~ and the lessons that made you what you are today ~ the deepest experience of humility and awe. Each of us has our own such experience, value, interest – and our own line in the sand. A lot of us believe enough has been taken away. Atop Brown’s Bench, that place under siege by wind developers ~ is where my 6 year-old son first told me he wants to be like me when he grows up – he wants to protect the animals.

    Public landscapes are being or are under consideration to be we away. Each split off such that the majority of groups can keep silent while the locals are forced to confront the reality alone.

    Defenders of Wildlife scientists tour the country giving speeches about how we’ll need to “rethink” NEPA and the ESA to expedite “Renewable” energy development.

    NRDC gets a giant grant to put together a map that helps energy developers identify public landscape to sacrifice where they’ll get the least resistance from groups like themselves. Lands that include Brown’s Bench and a thousand others without the benefit of a human voice to object.

    Center for Biological Diversity gets a multi-million dollar infusion of cash and decides that it’ll lay off protesting certain “Renewable” energy developements that will blade away critical habitat of species that its scientists and activists on the ground have spent their lives working to protect – internally justifying it’s abandonement on the condition that another group is doing something about it.

    The Sierra Club champions habitat destroying “Renewables” no matter the cost. Carl Pope takes his legacy.

    And hundreds of other smaller groups find themselves silent on energy developements – developments that if prefaced with anything other than “Renewable” they would be fighting tooth and nail to prevent. It takes a proposed development on their particular “turf” to spur action – and there, they find themselves largely alone on the limb.

    The community is split – the money’s against wildlife – and as this most recent development on Polar Bears suggests – “Renewable” energy developements on lands that belong to you and me are not nevessarily going to be accompanied by meaningful regulations that have the teeth to effectively decrease emmissions.

    Climate change had the potential to make us aware and lift that awareness into law and behavior that would benefit all of our environmental pursuits. Instead, a new industry that plays by the same old rules is in the process of securing a new market – not to replace the old carbon-emiiting market share (they’ll still be spewing their carbon filth into our children’s future) – but to supplement it ‘guilt-free’, to let us believe that we’re doing something – that Change is happening.

    We’ve been rolled – it’s time to raise hell.

  29. JB Avatar


    Carbon dioxide is one of several so-called “greenhouse gases” that contribute to global warming (though I suspect you already know this).

    The warming that has occurred in recent decades was predicted almost 30 years ago. In a 1981 publication in Science, Hansen et al. noted, “The global temperature rose by 0.2°C between the middle 1960’s and 1980, yielding a warming of 0.4°C in the past century. This temperature increase is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect due to measured increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Variations of volcanic aerosols and possibly solar luminosity appear to be primary causes of observed fluctuations about the mean trend of increasing temperature. It is shown that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide warming should emerge from the noise level of natural climate variability by the end of the century, and there is a high probability of warming in the 1980’s. Potential effects on climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climatic zones, erosion of the West Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage.”

    Sounds eerily prophetic now.

  30. jimbob Avatar

    Ralph, I have to disagree with your assertion that “Obama doesn’t know….”. We mistakenly believe that the president sets the tone, decides the issues, and runs the party. What I’m beginning to see is that these guys are CHOSEN by the PARTY, usually because they either agree with the basic party positions set forth by the committees in charge, or they want the job so much they won’t rock the boat. As big an idiot as Bush was, I could see by his flip-flopping, cover-ups, and his screwing over of trusted people that his strings were being pulled. He got that job because of his lack of insight, ability, and qualifications. They found somebody they thought would do what they want. I think the same about Obama. You’re telling me a one-term senator was the most qualified presidential candidate they could run out there? I’d say that the morons who run the democratic party do not believe that environmental politics are important and are giving on these issues so that they can do something else. Remember the Dems have always valued social change above all else. What they don’t realize is those of us who are independents elected them on the premise of “change”; we wanted the “cow-towing” to big business to stop. If things don’t change, their stay will be short-lived (hopefully). The problem is these two parties still believe that environmental issues are way down on the poll list for voters and that they don’t mean squat. We either need a strong third party or for one party to embrace the environment at the expense of the other party. Unfortunately, money, business, greed, and politics always trump the environment–now plainly for both parties!