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Palin's policies favor development over environment

September 22, 2008 | 11:15 am

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U.S. Geological Survey biologists believe that, if current climate-change trends continue, every polar bear in Alaska could be gone by 2050, but The Times' Kim Murphy reports that may not be a major concern to Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin:

Palin's administration has fought federal protections announced in May for polar bears, going to court to assert that the projections for a dramatic shrinking of the bears' icy habitat are unreliable and that polar bears are already protected enough.

Since becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee this month, Palin has championed a balance between energy exploration and environmental regulation. A review of her record as governor shows that, most often, she has tilted that balance in favor of oil and gas development, mining and hunting -- the economic backbones of a state that many residents consider both a scenic treasure and an exploitable resource.

"From further oil and gas development to fishing, mining, timber and tourism -- these developments remain the core of our state," Palin told state legislators last year.

"We here in Alaska share concerns about wildlife, of course -- every Alaskan has concerns about wildlife," she later said. "We're going to continue to . . . make sure that polar bears survive, and thrive, for decades to come."

Since Palin became governor in 2006, the state has sought to ramp up a program that encourages the shooting of wolves from aircraft in areas where they compete with human hunters for moose, caribou and deer.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

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Photos: Polar bear, California Museum of Science & Industry; Sarah Palin with caribou she shot, Associated Press

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