Saturday, October 18, 2008
Whale of a problem with Palin
Whales are beautiful creatures, that require a healthy ocean habitat to survive.
On Friday, the federal government placed the Beluga whales in Alaska's Cook Inlet under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, concluding that a decade long recovery program has failed to insure their survival.
The findings of NOAA'S National Marine Fisheries Service conflict with claims by Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, who has questioned scientific evidence that the beluga whale population in the waters near Anchorage continue to decline. Palin argued in December 2007 that the whales were recovering, that delayed the decision. Another review showed no increase of the numbers.
Subsistence hunting took a toll on the Cook Inlet beluga population, which numbered as many as 1300 in the 1970s, but now stands at 375. In August 2007, the Palin administration submitted 95 pages of data and comments to try to keep the whales off the list.
The Cook Inlet beluga whale population declined by 50% between 1994 and 1998. The whale recovery has been hindered by development & a range of industrial activities- including those related to oil and gas exploration. The INterior department has proposed making oil leases available in the Cook Inlet as early as next year, saying the waters have $1.38 billion worth of resources. Protection of the Beluga Whale and the Polar Bear means protecting their habitat.
Palin's request stalled the listing of the whale for 10 months. Palin filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of Alaska against the Interior Department to fight the listing of the Polar Bear as threatened in May of 2008.
In the meantime, energy companies have paid billions for the right to explore for oil and natural gas in polar bear & beluga whale habitat.
Brendan Cummings, the oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, which is challenging the rule in court on the grounds that it is illegal, said Thursday that the lawsuit brought by industry is another attempt to "make the polar bear's protections more meaningless than they already are."
The polar bear case includes the federal government's first consideration of climate change as a factor in making a listing determination under the ESA.
The decision means that before federal agencies can issue a variety of commercial permits, they must consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine if there are potential harmful effects on the whales, or the Interior Department protections in the case of Polar Bears. That has the potential to affect major Alaska projects, including an expansion of the Port of Anchorage, additional offshore oil and gas drilling, a proposed $600m bridge connecting Anchorage to Palin's hometown of Wasilla, and a massive coal mine 45 miles south of Anchorage.
“I am especially concerned,” the governor said in a written statement in August 2007, when her administration submitted documents to fight the listing, “that an unnecessary federal listing and designation of critical habitat would do serious long-term damage to the vibrant economy of the Cook Inlet area.”
OK~ just to recap, not too hard to connect the dots here. It's quite obvious wildlife and oil don't mix. Even the Republican led Interior department could no longer suppress the scientific facts about the 2 species, but Palin has the dollar signs in her eyes- she is blinded by big oil. For the Whale & the Polar bear, Drill Baby Drill equals, Kill Baby Kill ~ not one species, but two