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Nation in brief: Alaska to challenge polar bear listing

Thu., May 22, 2008

The state of Alaska will sue to challenge the recent listing of polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin announced Wednesday.

She and other Alaska elected officials fear a listing will cripple oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat off the state’s northern and northwestern coasts.

Palin argued that there is not enough evidence to support a listing. Polar bears are well-managed and their population has dramatically increased over 30 years as a result of conservation, she said.

Climate models that predict continued loss of sea ice, the main habitat of polar bears, during summers are unreliable, said Palin, a Republican.

The announcement drew a strong response from the primary author of the listing petition.

“She’s either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Alaska deserves better.”

Siegel said it was unconscionable for Palin to ignore overwhelming evidence of global warming’s threat to sea ice, the polar bear’s habitat.

“Even the Bush administration can’t deny the reality of global warming,” she said. “The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this.”

As marine mammals, polar bears are regulated by the federal government, not the state. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne last week made the listing decision and said it was based on three findings.

Washington

Bush signs bill on genetic testing

President Bush on Wednesday signed legislation to protect people from losing their jobs or health insurance when genetic testing reveals they are susceptible to costly diseases.

Broadly embraced in Congress, the anti-discrimination measure aims to ensure that advances in DNA testing won’t end up being used against people.

The new law forbids employers and insurance companies from denying employment, promotions or health coverage to people when genetic tests show they have a predisposition to cancer, heart disease or other ailments.

Bush praised the bill for protecting “our citizens from having genetic information misused.”

Sponsors of the legislation call it a groundbreaking protection of civil rights. About a dozen of them gathered in the Oval Office as Bush signed the bill.


 

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