US has two years to create critical polar-bear habitats

As part of a legal settlement with environmental groups, the US interior department has two years in which to designate areas of the Arctic as critical habitat for polar bears, thereby protecting those areas from oil development, Reuters reported on Monday.

Oil drilling is the most significant source of habitat loss for polar bears and after global warming, which has been causing significant
melting of Arctic ice in recent years.

Three environmental organisations — the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council — are
still suing the interior department to mandate the regulation of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide and other gases are considered the
primary sources of the rising temperatures leading to habitat loss for Arctic wildlife. The environmental groups also want to have polar
bears listed as "endangered", a more critical classification than the current "threatened".

Oil companies are increasingly turning to the Arctic waters as
potentially lucrative areas for drilling.

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