Stepping back into the national spotlight for the first time since the presidential election, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced last week that the state would be filing suit against the federal government to overturn the recent inclusion of the Cook Inlet beluga whale on the U.S. list of endangered species. The population of the whales, which marine biologists consider genetically distinct and geographically isolated from Alaska's other four beluga sub-species, has plummeted in recent decades—in the 1980s, some 1,300 of the whales lived in Cook Inlet, while today only 375 or so of the animals are there.
The forthcoming lawsuit marks the second time that the Palin administration, which environmentalists accuse of being too cozy with the oil companies that dominate the state's economy, has fought a federal endangered species listing. In August 2008, Alaska filed suit to overturn federal protection for the polar bear.
"Once again Governor Palin has demonstrated either a complete lack of understanding or lack of concern over the plight of endangered species," says Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups which originally proposed federal protection for both the polar bear and the Cook Inlet belugas. "Governor Palin seems more than willing to sacrifice endangered whales on the altar of oil company profits."
Source: Center for Biological Diversity