Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's goin' old-school on us now, straight up messing around with Federal mandates under the Endangered Species Act by opposing additional protections that have been recommended for the Cook Inlet beluga whale. Those infernal whales! The media is so in the tank for them! As Daniel Schulman reports, "This marks the second time in a year that Palin's administration has squared off with the federal government over an ESA listing. Over the summer, her administration sued Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne after his agency conferred threatened status on the polar bear."
At issue is the population of these whales, which were put under the protections of the Marine Mammal Protection Act eight years ago, which scientists argue hasn't sped their recovery:
Palin begs to differ. Her administration argues that that the belugas are faring just fine under the protections in place, and the population is even beginning to show signs of recovering. For this reason, the state of Alaska contends that additional regulation is unnecessary. "The State of Alaska has worked cooperatively with the federal government to protect and conserve beluga whales in Cook Inlet," Palin said last week. "This listing decision didn't take those efforts into account as required by law."
At the heart of Palin's objections are concerns that additional safeguards will interfere with oil and gas development, among other lucrative projects. "I am especially concerned 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," Palin said in 2007.
Schulman goes on to note that Palin has, in the past, attempted to bolster her economic arguments with quasi-science and the counsel of climate-skeptic voodoo witch doctors.
But the big picture thing here is that Sarah Palin is finally back to, uhm...doing Governor things? And "maverick" stuff? Because for a while there it was beginning to look like all Alaska was going to do for the rest of her term was yell at Katie Couric.