Alaska AG to review polar bear listing as threatened

Chris Rizo May 15, 2008, 11:00am

Gov. Sarah Palin

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Legal Newsline) - Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg will review a federal decision to list polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday.

The Republican governor said the attorney general will review the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to determine whether there is grounds for legal challenge.

Under the listing, the federal government is required to protect the bears in Alaska, the only place in the United States the species lives, as well as in places the U.S. issues permits.

The polar bear was put under the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act amid fears that global climate change is causing the polar ice caps to melt, thereby threatening the vitality of the big bears, even though the bears' numbers currently are not in a precipitous decline.

The governor said while she is disappointed by the government's decision to afford special protections to polar bears, Palin said she was relieved to learn that petroleum development was not the reason for the move.

Palin received a call from U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne before the announcement Wednesday, she said.

"It was reassuring to hear Secretary Kempthorne remind me also that he'll be acknowledging to all of America that it is not oil and gas developments that have such an adverse effect as to have led this decision for the threatened listing," she said.

Kempthorne said the listing is not a means to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from such things as automobiles and industrial sources.

In a statement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauded the decision, which also affirmed that the Endangered Species Act was never meant to address global climate change.

"We must safeguard our environment while also protecting our economy," said Bill Kovacs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's vice president of environmental affairs. "Today's decision will protect the polar bear while also protecting American jobs and businesses."

Legal Newsline is owned by an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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