After 15 months of deliberation, the Interior Department will declare polar bears “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, officials told the AP today. The decision will reportedly cite internal scientific studies which project that melting Arctic ice could nearly wipe out the animals by 2050.
Polar bears are the first species threatened primarily by global warming to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Some businesses have expressed concern that the mandate to protect the bears from emissions could affect their work, but sources say the decision will include provisions to protect power plants and other polluters. (Read more polar bear stories.)