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After getting past the initial shock of hearing about John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, I quickly honed in on two particularly salient aspects of her environmental views: her belief that climate change is not man-made and her opposition to the polar bear's listing as a threatened species. Now while I may not yet know much about Palin's overall record in office (what little there is), I thought these positions were telling -- especially given the McCain campaign's strenuous efforts to play up its candidate's environmental bona fides.
Which is why I'm sure the McCain campaign won't be too thrilled with the news that the American Petroleum Institute (gee, what a surprise) and several other industry groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (yup, these guys) and the National Mining Association, are joining the Palin administration's efforts to overturn the polar bear listing, as the WaPo's Kari Lydersen reports.
Polar bears are doing just fine, thank you very much
Palin's team and the industry groups have complained that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to list the polar bear would create an "Alaska Gap" by only subjecting the state's businesses to onerous greenhouse gas limits. Other states would be able to skirt such controls since they wouldn't have to make conservation a priority. A fair contention, perhaps, but this is where the lawsuit's argument really breaks down:
On Aug. 4, the state of Alaska filed a lawsuit opposing the polar bear's listing, arguing that their populations as a whole are stable and that melting sea ice does not pose an imminent threat to their survival. The suit says polar bears have survived warming periods in the past.
Lawsuit seeks to reverse decision by Bush administration
It's one thing to argue that the listing would impose burdensome regulations on your state; it's quite another to argue that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, polar bear populations are not being harmed by climate change and that they have survived such incidents in the past. The important thing to remember here is that the decision would only list the polar bear as a threatened species (not endangered), and that it is being proposed by the Bush administration.
The easiest way to circumvent all this legal tussling would be for the federal government to actually impose greenhouse gas emission limits nationwide -- or, at the very least, allow individual states to do so themselves -- effectively negating the industry groups' argument that the listing would unfairly target Alaska. Of course we all know what the likelihood of that ever happening is.