Posted 5/22 12:06am
Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin is taking on the Bush administration’s eco-pandering decision to put polar bears on the threatened species list. Via Reuters comes news that Alaska will file suit to block the move. With staunch, sane, principled conservatives like Gov. Palin and Sen. James Inhofe taking a stand, there’s hope–however dwindling–for the GOP yet.
Keep hope alive:
The state of Alaska will sue the U.S. government to stop the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, arguing the designation will slow development in the state, Gov. Sarah Palin said on Wednesday.
Palin said the state will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington challenging U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne’s decision to grant Endangered Species Act protections to the polar bear.
The Republican governor has argued that the ice-dependent polar bear, the first mammal granted Endangered Species Act listing because of global warming, does not need additional protections.
“We believe that the listing was unwarranted and that it’s unprecedented to list a currently healthy population based on uncertain climate models,” said Alaska Assistant Attorney General Steven Daugherty.
Even though Kempthorne enacted a rule aimed at precluding any new restrictions on oil and gas operations as a result of the listing, the Palin administration believes a wide variety of other development activities in Alaska would be hampered if the listing goes through, Daugherty said.
Any development or activity requiring federal permits or using federal funds would have to engage in a “consultation” process to ensure that polar bears are not harmed, he said.
That consultation, mandated by the Endangered Species Act, “is a long and time-consuming process,” he said. “It’s just, basically, a big time-and-money-waster.”
The Bush administration’s listing was an act of submission in the face of lawsuits from environmental activist groups.
As usual with acts of submission, this one didn’t satisfy the demanders. They’ve gone back to court to sue because the listing doesn’t “include steps against global warming.”
In court documents filed late Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups asked a federal judge to reject Interior Department actions that were announced last week.
Polar bears are threatened with extinction in many areas because of the melting of their sea ice habitat. The groups say greenhouse gas emissions have led to rapid melting in the Arctic.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, facing a court deadline because of the groups’ earlier lawsuit, had announced Wednesday that polar bears would be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Among the steps he proposed to help them were increasing research and working with Canada to help the bears survive in the wild. But he rejected the addition of broad steps to reduce greenhouse gases, saying he would not allow the Endangered Species Act to be “misused” to regulate global climate change.
Kassie Siegel, climate director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the administration’s proposal “violates both logic and the law” because it did not address the primary threat to polar bears. The listing of polar bears under the law is significant, she acknowledged, but the groups want them classified as endangered, a more serious category than threatened.
Joining in the court case were Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council. They announced their new federal court filing on Tuesday.
GOP presidential candidate John McCain supported the listing: “He said that he strongly supports the move and believes it should have happened ‘long ago.’”
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