Thursday, January 15, 2009

P-Alaska Sues to Overturn Listing of the Beluga in Cook's Inlet

Back on October 17, 2008, I excitedly wrote about the Cook's Inlet (Alaska) beluga whale listing. But now, P-Alaska is challenging the listing:

"It seems the Palin administration only likes one kind of science -- the kind it agrees with," said Craig Matkin, an Alaska marine mammal specialist with the North Gulf Oceanic Society. "Every objective expert who's looked at this small and isolated beluga population agrees it should be listed."
--X Ray Mag

By mid October, the nation had learned quite a lot about P's (we don't use the Alaska Governor's name around here anymore) position's on many things as VP candidate on the Republican ticket. Though virtually no one knew the name when first announced, the environmental community certainly did. I did. I knew the name because of her unscientific, illogical, vicious and radical support for aerial wolf hunting in Alaska.

I was stunned to think such an environmental neanderthal could even be floated--let alone chosen--as a VP candidate. I wrote my first post on P and her vigorous support of aerial wolf hunting that night--the night of announcement--and posted it the following day, August 30, 2008.

Given P was so heavily criticized for her generally inane, "worse that Watt" environmental stands--support of wolf hunting; her adversarial legal challenge to the ESA listing of the polar bear in light of global warning; her support of the slaughter of bear sows and cubs to, like the wolf slaughter, provide more caribou for tourist's to shoot; her opposition to the listing of the Cook's Inlet beluga because of more important oil and gas interests etc.--it was amazing that anyone with any sort or kind of environmental knowledge or care of same could even consider P as a viable political option media or not.

Blogs, print and net media went viral with the story of the wolf--finally. And people began to write about her overall "scorched earth" environmental stands--finally.
Post defeat, I had hoped P had learned something about Americans and the environment (and believe me, much of the world press also had a field day on many of these issues) and perhaps she might take that lesson home and think long and hard about it, even seek to actually spend some time and money seeking to help Alaska's environment. Instead, as the Center for Biological Diversity opined today:

Alaska ’s legal action against the beluga whale marks the second time in recent months that Governor Palin’s administration has launched legal attacks against endangered species on behalf of the oil industry; in August 2008 Palin filed suit seeking to overturn federal protection for the polar bear.
One of the environmental groups I most respect on the issue of biological diversity and endangered species is The Center for Biological Diversity. The Center is a dedicated powerhouse for biological integrity and diversity and, though relatively small, packs a mean punch. The Center is top notch. TOP, TOP NOTCH.

The Center's write up on the belugas can be read here [note links on the right side should you desire to read more, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA) laws, themselves], and here is the Center's press release on the beluga topic. The Center originally sued (with others) to get the belugas on the ESA list and was successful last fall.
Instead of self assessment, P is on the news, in print, on the web, in blogs whining about how unfairly she was treated (WAH!) by the press during the presidential campaign. She slams the media, slams Katie Couric, and even takes Caroline Kennedy to task in the context of her warped self-relativism. And of course, this is not just bothersome, it is almost (in the old use of the word) hysterical coming from her given her absolute know-nothing criticism of Hillary Clinton on... whining.
What the press didn't miss, stub their alleged liberal toes on or mis-report, were P's environmental leanings. Shit, the woman hangs that laundry on the line every chance she gets with a cosmic middle finger to everything non-human and most things human.

The problem is that P has learned exactly nothing from the campaign about herself, her mistakes, the fact Americans didn't (and don't) like her (her polling was terrible after the first convention curve) and why. Yet, to this minute, she exacts a terrible toll on the Alaskan wildlife that is not hers to kill. These species are not controlled by Alaska, but the US government.

And thanks be to God for that.

In the meantime, some of the world's most endangered animals are in P's sights, almost literally, while P serves as a lapdog for the oil and gas industry moving even farther to the right, environmentally, than George Bush--astounding as that might seem.

I wonder if P realizes that tourism isn't driven by oil and gas. Shoot, want to see oil and gas, buy a ticket to west Texas and rent a car. Or if you want to see aerial views of the oil and gas industry rape on wild land, go to VP Dick Cheney's alma, Wyoming, and take a fly over of the oil/gas exploration areas there. It is an environmental travesty.

The bottom line is this: We need to track ESA issues, and need to track those that attempt to derail listings. It is NEVER just about one species. It is always a broad attack on the entire assumption that species and environment even matter, or are indicative of environmental health or human error.

Think canary in the coal mine. Or, right now, just think Tennessee and massive coal industry (sludge) screw ups that we CANNOT clean up.

For press coverage of the belugas:

1. This is a press release from April 22, 2008 PRIOR to listing when The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service was doing a whale recount prior to listing (good background piece)
2. NOAA listing of whales as endangered, here.
3. Excellent National Geographic Piece (with graphics and pics) on the Cook's Inlet belugas here.
4. P Administration and related entities reaction to listing of Cook's Inlet beluga whale here.
5. Stories on Alaska litigation to challenge ESA Cook's Inlet beluga listing: here and here.
6. An Alaskan perspective, here.