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Alaska fights to reverse polar bear protection

[thumbnail icon url=”alaska-fights-to-reverse-polar-bear-protection” filename=”news” year=”2009″ month=”11″ day=”23″] The Associated Press reports that Alaska is looking to remove protection for polar bears, as the designation as a threatened species endangers the state’s petroleum development.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska¬†– Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell says he has the best interest of polar bears at heart, but he doesn’t intend to let the federal government’s expanded protection for bears get in the way of the state’s continued prosperity.

Like his predecessor, Sarah Palin, the governor is suing the federal government to overturn the listing of the iconic symbol of the Arctic as a threatened species, a move made last year that he believes could threaten Alaska’s lifeblood: petroleum development.

“Currently, some are attempting to improperly use the Endangered Species Act to shut down resource development,” Parnell said. “I’m not going to let this happen on my watch.”

As Alaska North Slope wells dry up, the state is turning to potential offshore discoveries to refill the trans-Alaska pipeline and ensure the long-term prospects of a $26 billion proposed natural gas pipeline. Protections for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act could thwart that, Parnell says, adding that they’re not needed.

“Alaskans have an excellent track record of both developing our natural resources and protecting our wildlife,” said Parnell, who replaced Palin when she resigned in late July.

That’s a position critics dispute after the 10.8-million gallon Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, a 200,000-gallon North Slope pipeline spill in March 2006, and the state-funded killing of more than 1,000 wolves and hundreds of black bears since 2003 to increase moose and caribou populations…

[read the full Alaska fights to reverse polar bear protection article on the Denver Post]

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