What's next for Sarah Palin? Skunks?
Alaska's governor and John McCain's high-flying running-mate, who lost in her attempt to stop the US government from declaring polar bears a threatened species, went 0-for-2 on Friday. That's when Washington decided to put the beluga whales of Alaska's Cook Inlet, which haven't recovered since their numbers were cut in half during the 1990s, on the endangered species list.
Why a whale derider? Palin on Friday called the decision ''premature'' and challenged government data on declining populations, as she has done regarding polar bears. Here's more from The New York Times:
As with the polar bear, Ms. Palin’s administration opposed the beluga listing in part because of its potential to restrict coastal and offshore oil and gas development. The beluga listing could also affect other projects, including the expansion of the Port of Anchorage and a proposed bridge over Knik Arm that would connect Anchorage to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and Ms. Palin’s hometown, Wasilla.
“I am especially concerned,” the governor said in a written statement in August 2007, when her administration submitted documents to fight the listing, “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.”
It should be noted that Alaskan opposition to Friday's ruling extends to the other side of the political aisle, with Anchorage Mayor and Democratic Senate aspirant Mark Begich saying the decision could hurt a $500 million project to expand Anchorage's port.
To see a photogaph of a 6-year-old pearl-white beluga whale
click here to this account from today's Globe.
Also, here's an account from earlier this month of the declining population of the whales, and here's a commentary from Pacific Free Press that calls Palin's beluga-bashing a coddling of Big Oil consistent with her ''paleo-conservative'' views.
Readers, what's your thought on this? Do you think beluga whales will come up in a skit in tonight's Sarah Palin-guest-star version of NBC's "Saturday Night Live"? Do you think the US government rushed to judgment here? Let us know in our comments section. A footnote: the cartoon at top is a caricature by Globe cartoonist Dan Wasserman.
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