Resolution Opposes Listing Polar Bear as Threatened
Caucus Measure Asks All States to Join
Juneau – The Senate Republican Caucus will introduce a resolution tomorrow stating the Senateâ€™s opposition to listing the polar bear as a threatened species, and encouraging the other 49 states to do so as well.
“We think listing the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act has serious consequences for the State of Alaska long-term. It potentially opens the State to numerous lawsuits from across the nation that could claim an activity increases green house gases, therefore impacting sea ice, therefore impacting polar bears, and result in a bottleneck for all kinds of projects,” said Senate Minority Leader Gene Therriault, R-North Pole.
“We believe the statement in this resolution dovetails well with the position of the previous and current administration,” Therriault said, citing letters from both administrations and written testimony of Tina Cunning, special assistant to the commissioner, Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
According to University of Alaska Fairbanks Research Associate Professor Matt Cronin, the proposed rule to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act is based on model predictions of loss of most of the summer Arctic sea ice in the next 45 years. This in turn is used to predict negative impacts on polar bears to the point where they decline in numbers enough to be considered threatened worldwide. However these are selective, worst-case predictions and other scenarios are possible, Cronin said.
“We don’t know what the future ice conditions will be, as there is apparently considerable uncertainty in the sea ice models regarding the timing and extent of sea ice loss. Also, polar bear populations are generally healthy and have increased worldwide over the last few decades. Recent declines in sea ice and indications that polar bears in some areas may be negatively impacted are cause for concern, but in my opinion do not warrant designation of the species as threatened with extinction,” Cronin said.
“I believe that consideration of multiple hypotheses regarding the future of sea ice and polar bear populations would provide better science than reliance on one extreme case hypothesis of loss of sea ice and associated drastic declines in polar bear populations,” Cronin said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing polar bears as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in the Federal Register on Jan. 9, 2007. Comments in the federal process must be submitted by April 9, 2007. The Senate Resolution, which has not yet been assigned a number, could be passed by a simple majority vote of the Senate, with no committee referrals.
Sound Actualities can be downloaded from the following links:
Background documents can be downloaded from the following links:
Senate Resolution (number to be assigned)
March 28, 2007 letter from Gov. Palin to Fort Yukon Mayor Jerry Carroll
Nov. 17, 2006 letter from Gov. Murkowski to Dale Hall, Director of the U.S.F&WS
March 1, 2007 by Tina Cunning, special assistant to the Commissioner of FishÂ & Game
Dec. 18, 2006 letter from Gov. Palin to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne