Knut the polar bear
Knut the polar bear - 
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Scott Jagow: The polar bear could go on the U.S. government's endangered species list this week, and that could have some business implications. Danielle Karson reports from Washington.

Danielle Karson: Environmentalists say the designation can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Andrew Wetzler is with the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Andrew Wetzler: Protecting the polar bear will be an enormous step forward towards saving the polar bear, and will be an extraordinarily important recognition of the effect that global warming is having on the Arctic.

Once a species is declared endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service develops a road map to protect it, says spokeswoman Valerie Fellows:

Valerie Fellows: And there will be goals associated with that timeline and how we measure success.

Fellows wouldn't say whether government could use the endangered designation to mandate a cut in emissions. But the NRDC's Wetzler says federal agencies have to run safety checks on all permits.

Wetzler: Not only is that going to be activities such as oil and gas drilling, or industrialization of the Arctic, but will also embrace federal actions that are exacerbating global warming.

The Endangered Species Act rarely stops projects, but does call on agencies to take common sense measures to protect wildlife.

In Washington, I'm Danielle Karson for Marketplace.