WASHINGTON -- Less than a month after declaring polar bears a threatened species because of global warming, the Bush administration is giving oil companies permission to annoy and potentially harm them in the pursuit of oil and natural gas.
The Fish and Wildlife Service* issued regulations this week providing legal protection to seven oil companies planning to search for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea off the northwestern coast of Alaska if "small numbers"** of polar bears or Pacific walruses are incidentally harmed by their activities over the next five years.
However, the Fish and Wildlife Service* said oil and gas exploration will have a negligible*** effect on the bears' population.
There is no evidence of a polar bear being killed by oil and gas activities in Alaska since 1993, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service*. Since 1960, when the hunt for oil and gas began in Alaska, only two fatalities of polar bears have been linked to oil and gas activities in the state, the service* said.
*Who would like to continue receiving a paycheck
** Small Numbers is the definition of Threatened Species, for those of you at home keeping score
***If by negligible, you mean "now have an oil rig in their bedroom"