Gov. Sarah Palin on polar bears, climate change, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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In September 2007 Governor Palin formed the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet and charged it with preparing and implementing an Alaska Climate Change Strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and responding to the effects of climate change.  But Palin opposed listing the polar bear as threatened by global warming and loss of sea ice habitat, in spite of the findings of a scientifically based status assessment put together by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Marine Mammals Management Office in Alaska and the clear requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

Also see our posts:
August 29: Did Gov. palin misrepresent views of Alaska ascientists on threat to polar bear?
August 30: Alaska Gov. Palin appears to deny global warming is due to human activity

On 14 September 2007, Gov. Palin signed Administrative Order No. 238, officially forming the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet. The Climate Change Sub-Cabinet’s efforts are organized into two broad themes. “Adaptation” includes those measures that can be taken to respond to the effects of climate change. “Mitigation” refers to measures to reduce Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions and to address other sources and causes of climate change.

Also in September 2007 Gov. Palin joined the multi-state Western Climate Initiative as an observer. 

She is very much in favor opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.  See interview with Investor’s Business Daily, 12 July 2008.
Palin opposed listing of the polar bear as a threatened species before the Department of Interior made its decision to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.  Earlier this month, her state government sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision. 

In a 5 January 2008 op-ed column in the New York Times she wrote:

[Polar bears] are worthy of our utmost efforts to protect them and their Arctic habitat. But adding polar bears to the nation’s list of endangered species, as some are now proposing, should not be part of those efforts.

This month, the secretary of the interior is expected to rule on whether polar bears should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. I strongly believe that adding them to the list is the wrong move at this time. My decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.

The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, has argued that global warming and the reduction of polar ice severely threatens the bears’ habitat and their existence. In fact, there is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future — the trigger for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Testimony on 2 April 2008 by Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity before the Senate Environment Committee at a hearing on “Oversight on the Listing Decision for the Polar Bear under the Endangered Species Act” shreds Gov. Palin’s argument.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service status assessment, prepared by federal scientists, that led to the listing of the polar bear, was issued in December 2006.

Also see our earlier posts:
14 May 2008: How will the Interior Dept implement protection of polar bear as a threatened species?
14 May 2008: Administration refusal to protect polar bear from greenhouse emissions “won’t hold up in court”
29 December 2006: Polar Bears, Pt 2: “Habitat loss and inadequate regulatory mechanisms to address sea ice recession”

 

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