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Senator Begich Statement on Interior Sec. Decision to Retain Conservation Rule for Polar Bears


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U.S. Senator Mark Begich today issued the following statement after Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced he will retain a special rule promulgated under the Bush Administration in December for protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The action means the ESA will not be used to control carbon emissions, such as North Slope development in Alaska.

Begich wrote the Interior Secretary on the issue last Friday, urging him to "retain the rule and maintain the balance it struck between protecting polar bears and ensuring continued development of oil and gas development on the North Slope of Alaska:"

"I commend Secretary Salazar for protecting the polar bear while also recognizing it is not appropriate to use a federal law like the ESA to try to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. I support Secretary Salazar's belief that we need a comprehensive energy and climate strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the ESA should not be used as a back-door regulatory tool to achieve this goal.

"If Secretary Salazar had overturned the ESA ‘section 4 (d) rule' adopted under the polar bear listing, it would have had a significant negative impact on continued oil and gas development on the North Slope of Alaska. I am glad he listened to the views of Alaskans and is letting the rule stand. I look forward to continuing to work with the Secretary and the Obama Administration on understanding Alaska's valuable role in providing energy for American homes and factories as we develop a comprehensive energy policy for our country."

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