Judge Kills Alaska's Anti-whale Lawsuit

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Victory for Belugas:
Judge Kills Alaska's Anti-whale Lawsuit

From Center for Biological Diversity
November 2011

The decision means the whale population (which fell from 1,300 in the 1970s to only 300 or 400 today) will keep the federal protection designed to save the animals from extinction.

Chalk up another loss for Alaska's anti-wildlife crowd -- and another important win for the state's wildlife. A federal judge on Monday utterly rejected a lawsuit sparked by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to strip Endangered Species Act protections from Cook Inlet beluga whales. The decision means the whale population (which fell from 1,300 in the 1970s to only 300 or 400 today) will keep the federal protection designed to save the animals from extinction. The ruling caps more than a decade of work by the Center for Biological Diversity and our supporters to get these magnificent white whales the protection they need.

The Center first petitioned to protect Cook Inlet belugas under the Act in 1999. The whales were designated as an endangered species in 2008 and, within months, then-Gov. Palin announced that the state of Alaska would sue. The Center and allies intervened in the lawsuit. Finally, this Monday, the judge shot down the state of Alaska, ruling that the decision to protect the belugas was based on sound science and should stand. Although the whales were awarded nearly 2 million acres of protected habitat earlier this year, threats remain, including coal-export operations, pollution from Anchorage, offshore oil and gas drilling, development, and a planned billion-dollar bridge in the heart of the whales' most important habitat.