Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority, and likely the obligation, to regulate CO2 as a pollutant.  On Friday a UN conference on climate change approved a report on global warming, warning that any deterioration in global warming will threaten the earth and human beings.

Caught in the global warming crossfire are Yellowstone’s grizzly bears.  The Bush administration has determined to lift Endangered Species protections from the bears at the very time one of their main food sources is disappearing due to global warming.

Yellowstone grizzlies depend on the seeds produced by the whitebark pine tree as a main food source used to fatten up before winter hibernation.  Global warming is causing beetles to kill this key grizzly food source at alarming rates.  On top of that, grizzly bears in the contiguous United States occupy only two percent of their historic habitat.  Only one percent of their historic population levels survive today.

Most conservation groups and scientists oppose the move to lift the protections, because of the threat posed by global warming as well as concern over genetic bottlenecks in the small bear population.

Eight conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice recently filed a notice with the federal government of their intent to sue to restore Endangered Species Act protections to the bears.  The government intends to lift those protections on April 30.

Lifting Endangered Species Act protections for grizzlies rescinds limitations on road-building, logging, and oil and gas development in much of the public lands currently used by grizzlies.

More than 40 percent of lands used by grizzlies today in the Yellowstone ecosystem are outside of the designated recovery area.  The Fish and Wildlife Service has not taken steps to ensure the bears’ viability in those areas after delisting.

The government’s decision to lift protections will also subject the bears to hunting in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

The conservation groups that filed the notice of intent to sue are the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Humane Society of the United States, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watershed Project, Great Bear Foundation, and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.