Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the Obama administration will leave in place an unpopular Bush rule on the protection of polar bears. The decision comes despite an outcry from Democrats, environmental activists and scientists alike, who promised to push to overturn the rule in court.

The New York Times:

While keeping the rule — which limits use of the Endangered Species Act to curb emissions of greenhouse gases — Salazar held open the possibility of adding habitat protections for the polar bear later.

“To see the polar bear’s habitat melting and an iconic species threatened is an environmental tragedy of the modern age,” Salazar said. “This administration is fully committed to the protection and recovery of the polar bear.”

The rule in question was finalized by the Bush administration in December, six months after the polar bear was declared a threatened species due to the melting of its sea-ice habitat. Environmentalists, lawmakers, law professors and scientists who sent letters to Salazar urging him to toss the rule decried his decision.

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