The beluga whales living in Alaska’s Cook Inlet were declared an endangered species yesterday over Sarah Palin’s vehement objections, the New York Times reports. The beluga population was cut almost in half during the late '90s, and hasn’t recovered despite a wave of new protections. But Palin campaigned hard against declaring them endangered, because it might restrict coastal oil and gas development.
Palin made a similar failed effort to keep the polar bear off the endangered list. Last year, she wrote that she was afraid the listing might hurt Cook Inlet’s economy, and yesterday she called the move “premature.” But one Anchorage environmental lawyer praised the move. “I think the population is so darn small that they had no choice,” he said.