18 Apr 2010, 9:02pm
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Murkowski: government uses ESA to halt development

By Sean Manget, Alaska Journal of Commerce, April 16, 2010 [here]

The Endangered Species Act is being used by the federal government to stop resource development in Alaska, according to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and several panelists at a recent forum event.

This accusation follows a recent push on the part of the Republican senator to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions, an effort Alaska Governor Sean Parnell joined recently.

“The ESA is being used and, indeed, abused, to shut down economic development and regulate climate change, which it wasn’t meant to do,” Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan said at the forum, where eight panelists representing different principal players in the debate on the local level answered a series of questions issued by Murkowski.

“It seems as if they go after species in areas where it would hurt development,” said Jason Brune, executive director of the Resource Development Council, an oil industry trade group.

Brune said there have been oil platforms in Cook Inlet for 50 years, and that companies have been coexisting with the beluga whales during that time without harming the whale population.

In 2008, Cook Inlet belugas were listed as an endangered species under the ESA. Since then, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service has sought to designate the inlet as a critical habitat, meaning any new development in the area funded or developed by the federal government would need to be OK’d by NMFS before being allowed to continue. … [more]

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson of Property Rights Research [here, here]

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