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Activists Use Polar Bear Costume To Protest Offshore Drilling… In The Mid-Atlantic?

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Environmental activists will protest outside a Washington, D.C. hearing Monday on the Obama administration’s latest offshore drilling 5-year plan. One activist is even dressing up as Frostpaw the dancing polar bear to highlight how global warming is shrinking the Arctic.

Environmentalists are particularly angry with the Obama administration’s proposal to have one offshore drilling lease sale in the Mid-Atlantic along with three off the coast of Alaska. This is the first time President Obama has proposed opening the Atlantic to drilling since before the BP Gulf Coast oil spill in 2010.

Activists are angry with the administration for potentially holding lease sales in the Atlantic, though many eco-activists were happy to see huge areas of the Arctic made off-limits to drilling.

So how will environmentalists oppose Obama’s proposed offshore drilling plan? By protesting outside the D.C. offices of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. But that’s not all, protesters will be joined by Frostpaw the polar bear, who will rage dance over the proposed leases.

“Putting our oceans up for sale to oil companies is not the path toward solving the climate crisis. We’re telling Obama to take his own advice on climate change and stop expanding dirty fossil fuels in our oceans,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity — the group that invented Frostpaw the dancing polar bear.

Frostpaw is intended to illustrate the animal life that will be threatened by drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic. The Center for Biological Diversity says “[r]amping up offshore drilling raises the risk of disastrous spills, puts wildlife in harm’s way, and deepens U.S. dependence on the fossil fuels driving the global climate crisis.”

There’s just one problem: there’s no evidence of polar bears ever being killed by oil and natural gas drilling, despite billions of barrels of oil being produced in the Arctic region. Not to mention the fact that no polar bears live in the Mid-Atlantic region, except maybe in zoos.

“I have heard of no such deaths on record,” Dag Vongraven, chair of the Polar Bear Specialist Group, told The Daily Caller News Foundation last fall. “I have checked quickly with senior members of the PBSG, and they all concur. None know of any such deaths confirmed.”

“The risk remains but there is no knowledge of any spills that have been confirmed to influence bears at present,” Vongraven told TheDCNF.

Environmentalists have been ramping up their anti-drilling campaign in the last couple of years, using polar bears as their anti-drilling mascot. Activists say that oil can be poisonous to bears if ingested and can prevent their fur from insulating them from the cold.

Ultimately though, environmentalists say that global warming is the most pressing issue for polar bears because it makes it harder for them to hunt for food when there is less sea ice in the Arctic.

“For a mother polar bear and her cubs, the ice is already melting around them. The last thing they need to contend with is an oil spill,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, wrote in a recruiting email last year.

The image of a polar swimming in the Arctic, struggling to survive, was made famous by former Vice President Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth.” In the film, Gore portrayed polar bears as struggling to cope with melting sea ice and contributed to their being listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2008.

Despite what Gore and other environmentalists claim, polar bears are actually faring quite well — even as Arctic sea ice recedes. There are actually more polar bears today than there were 40 years ago thanks to limits on the hunting and trading of polar bears.

Current estimates put the global polar bear population between 20,000 and 25,000 bears, living in the Arctic regions of the world. But even those estimates likely undercount the true polar bear population.

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